The summer blockbuster season can be brutally competitive. Quiet often, major movies are competing against like-minded competition on the same opening weekend. And then they have fresh features rolling in the following weekend, meaning if you don’t hustle to make your money, you can be left in the dust.
The decision to do this no doubt was influenced by a number of intriguing factors, starting with the fact that audiences just aren’t responding to Simon Kinberg’s Dark Phoenix story. He takes the blame for that, to his credit. The sequel had the lowest opening weekend number in the X-Men franchise history, posting a $32 million haul. It since has gone on to earn an estimated $55M in the U.S., and that number isn’t going to go up if theaters are disappearing.
Basically, this boils down to a “survival of the fittest” mentality at the box office. Theaters need to create screens for movies people might actually want to see, and Toy Story 4, Child’s Play, and the pending Spider-Man: Far From Home are going to demand a lot of screens.
Beyond that, Disney and local theaters are bracing for the onslaught that should occur when The Lion King opens on July 19. After that, Quentin Tarantino has his epic Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and you KNOW that QT cares about the theaters that are ready to present his ninth film.
What happened to the X-Men franchise? Truthfully, we just figure that audiences understood how the storyline got pinched in between the behind the scenes decisions of Disney absorbing Fox. While the ripples of the business decisions continue to play out behind the scenes, true comic-book movie fans know that this means the X-Men will eventually join the MCU… so why pay to see a lame-duck chapter of a franchise whose plug is being pulled?
And now, X-Men fans wait. We had the ability to speak with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige at the press day for Spider-Man: Far From Home, and he admitted to us that he is thinking about ways to bring the mutants into the MCU. But these numbers suggest an audience fatigue in the X-Men as characters, so it might be wise to put the series on the shelf, so people can grow to miss the mutants before they are rushed back into theaters.
If you had any real interest in catching Dark Phoenix on the big screen, you better move quick, as it sounds like it will be extinguished very soon.