Rarely has there been a tale of so much cinematic woe than that of The New Mutants and its release date, which remains rather unknown. While the venture, which is a teen superhero-horror film in Fox's soon-to-be concluded X-Men universe, is slated to come out on April 3rd, 2020, there was nary a peep made about the movie during D23 festivities, so it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that director Josh Boone's tragically-fated title won't see the light of day anytime soon. If it does get delayed yet again, it'll continue a pattern of starts-and-stops which have plagued the film from the get-go.
That's not to say that The New Mutants is deemed to fail as a film (in fact, there are reports claiming that Josh Boone's film might actually be in pretty good shape, quality wise). Or that Disney is holding the Fox blockbuster inside its Disney vault for good, with few intentions of releasing it — though there are allegations claiming that Disney is reportedly "unimpressed" with what it's seen.
What we're saying is that The New Mutants has now been delayed so many times that it'd be funny if it were so sad. This film can't seem to catch a break, can it? Every time the release date seems near, Disney yanks it off the schedule, pushing the release date back farther and farther to the point where these once New Mutants will eventually be old news if the studio keep this up. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the film just appeared on Disney+ or Hulu one day, with no warning or fanfare.
So how did we get here? Let's break down how this once well-hyped superhero horror movie — which was believed to be a brand new turning phase for the bright future of Fox's superhero output —turned into one of the most sorely dejected, oddly hush-hush projects under Disney's well-documented schedule. Even the producers and some of the actors are reportedly not clued in to when it will come out, assuming it comes out anytime soon. Perhaps it is only fitting that a movie about locked up mutants is having trouble find a wait to make it out? The New Mutants has been eagerly waiting for the day to shine. Alas, here's what happened.
Josh Boone Decides To Adapt The New Mutants Comic Books (2014)
In 2014, Josh Boone was fresh off the weepy hit teen drama, The Fault In Our Stars, based on the best-selling book of the same name by John Green. The film's success, both critically and commercially, proved that Boone was ready to move up the ladder. And it was around this time that the director was hoping to make a film adaptation of New Mutants, a comic created by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz, and Boone commissioned his friend, Knate Lee, to make a comic book in order to illustrate what a potential New Mutants movie would look like. Boone and Lee's comic was then sent to Simon Kinberg, the screenwriter and producer behind a number of recent X-Men titles. He "really liked it," and felt it could be a project worth pursing.
At the time, Fox's X-Men movies were starting to take a turn for movies that could either be dark and moody (Logan) or simply more adult and button-pushing (Deadpool). While The New Mutants was leaning more towards a teenage audience, similar to other X-Men features aiming below the 35-year-old demographic, it'd be designed as a more intense, genre-friendly film, which would make it both fresh and familiar for X-Men. It became a win-win scenario, particularly with Josh Boone using his newfound clout in the teen market to make a film that would hopefully appeal to this target audience.
Fox Approves, New Mutants Screenplay Is Written (2015)
With Fox giving Josh Boone the thumbs up on their aspirations, Boone and Knate Lee got to work on a screenplay based on their comic, which they were hoping would provide the blueprint for a new trilogy of superhero movies. The plan at the time, however, was to simply make a standalone film, one that was spun off of the X-Men franchise and carried only loose connections to the other movies. Simon Kinberg and Lauren Shuler Donner were attached as producers. In the screenwriting process, Boone had the approval of co-creator Bill Sienkiewicz, who felt the screenplay and the ideas that Boone detailed along with it were on the right track, having figured out a way to translate the material richly, while also not simply copying the comics.
New Mutants Gets Its First Release Date (2016)
As Josh Boone and Knate Lee continued to fine-tune the screenplay, Fox was given the validation of making standalone X-Men movies when the long-anticipated release of Deadpool turned into a roaring success. The runaway hit exceeded everyone's expectations, becoming a cultural phenomenon in a way that harkened back to the likes of Austin Powers, Borat and other irreverent comedy characters. There were no doubts that a sequel was on the way, and in the process, Fox continued to be impressed with what Boone and Lee were bringing to the table with their screenplay, although they had brought in Fault in Our Stars screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber to write a draft of the screenplay while Boone and Lee worked on another project. It was around this point that casting suggestions starting floating around, with Anya Taylor-Joy and Maisie Williams' names involved.
Reportedly trying to be a horror film in the vein of "Stephen King meets John Hughes," The New Mutants was gearing towards production. There were reports that different X-Men characters might be involved, although it sounds like they were written out with subsequent re-writes of the movie. It was set to shoot in Medfield State Hospital, where Shutter Island was filmed several years prior, and the film was given its first release date: April 13th, 2018. Oh, when we were once so young...
Filming officially commenced on July 10th, 2017 and it ended on September 16th, 2017. At this point, the production was already proving stressful for Boone, who felt his horror ideas were being "neutered" in the process of filming. But that was nothing compared to the troubles the filmmaker would have to face during an intense, extensive, overly-prolonged and ultimately frustrating post-production.
Reshoots And Deadpool 2 Release Causes First Delay (2018)
The early stages of post-production started around the fall of 2017. As the movie was being put together, the producers were hyping up the film as a super-heroic mix of The Breakfast Club and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Certainly an intriguing prospect. Josh Boone delivered a version of The New Mutants that he felt happy with, and it earned good notices from test audiences, who rated the film on the same level as Deadpool. Plans were in place for three days of additional photography, in order to make the movie more YA friendly. But when the trailer came out around the release of IT, it was clear that people were digging the horror vibes seen in the trailer, and it was in Fox's interest to return the movie back to Boone's original vision.
What should have been a happy turn of events started a chain of trouble for Josh Boone and this new Fox superhero movie. In January 2018, the release date was pushed back from February 22, 2019, seemingly for two reasons. One, it would allow the movie to be more horror-friendly based on these reshoots. It would also give it some wiggle room following the release of Deadpool 2, which was another X-Men standalone film released in the summer of 2018.
Maisie Williams agreed in an interview with Collider that the turnaround was ultimately for the better, since it would allow The New Mutants to have a little more time for visual effects to be touched up after the reshoots and to be ready for the public's consumption. The reshoots were anticipated to begin in mid-2018, although it didn't take long before the release date was pushed back again. This time, to avoid Dark Phoenix.
New Mutants Is Delayed Again For Extensive Reshoots (2018-2019)
It only took a couple months before The New Mutants got pushed back again. This time, the release date was pushed from February 22 to August 2, 2019. In addition to avoiding the previous February release date for Dark Phoenix, before that movie got moved to the summer season, it was apparent to the producers that the reshoots were ultimately more extensive than it was originally believed. So extensive, in fact, that Fox reportedly wanted at least half of the movie to be reshot.
The goal was to make the movie distinct, in the same vein as Logan and Deadpool, from the previous X-Men movies, if not quite as adult in its execution. At this point, there were concerns that Fox was dealing with yet another Fantastic Four (2015) fiasco. But Fox was willing to stress that this situation would hopefully better since the studio was working with Josh Boone on these reshoots (opposed to Josh Trank's removal). Nevertheless, it was clear that the post-production was becoming more hectic than initially anticipated, including a new antagonist subplot.
There were plans to start to reshoots in September 2018, although that was only based on speculation. It was later reported by The Hollywood Reporter in March 2019 that these New Mutants reshoots still hadn't taken place, as the movie was still in the hands of Josh Boone. It would seem that the reshoots were caught up in both the actors' busy schedules and the ongoing Fox merger.
Disney's involvement in acquiring Fox left the state of New Mutants in flux. It was clear that with its acquisition of the studio, it was hoping to introduce the X-Men characters into their own MCU. That meant that it had little care or concern for what happened with the last two Fox superhero movies, Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants. With all the word of delays and extensive reshoots, there was understandably lots of concern for what would happen to this movie, assuming it'd come out.
Delay Number Three And Uncertainty About Release After Dark Phoenix Flop (2019)
Alas, this is where The New Mutants story becomes more tragic. With everything at Fox being in a total state of flux, it wasn't clear what would happen with all the existing, not-yet-released titles from the once-separate studio. It was apparent that The New Mutants was probably not going to meet its August 9, 2019 release date, especially with reshoots not yet finished (or, reportedly, even filmed). It was announced earlier this year that the movie was planning to be released theatrically on April 3, 2020, which would put it out a few weeks before the summer movie season. This release date suggested confidence, and it would seem that the plans for the reshoots and the seemingly-finalized, Disney-approved release date would mean that it's finally ready to go.
Alas, that's when Dark Phoenix came out in June 2019, and the movie's abysmal release apparently gave Disney pause when it came to its plans for The New Mutants. Its Fox priorities were reworked, with the top wigs at Disney making it clear it would shuffle things around and making quite a few remaining Fox executives nervous. A report later came out that said that Disney executive were reportedly "unimpressed" with what they saw from The New Mutants, and the movie's complete shut-out at D23 seemed to be worrisome sign. Still, up until recently, it looked like The New Mutants was indeed going to drop in April, to the point that a new trailer was finally released at the beginning of 2020.
Delay Number Four Happens Due To Spread Of Coronavirus (2020)
And now we arrive to the latest reason for The New Mutants being delayed, which wasn’t the result of creative obstacles, but outside circumstances. The New Mutants was on track to be released April 3, 2020, and we learned that those reshoots mentioned earlier never happened, meaning that the movie people would see in theaters was comprised of footage shot during principal photography. In other words, director Josh Boone’s original vision for The New Mutants remained intact.
However, on March 12, 2020, Disney removed The New Mutants, as well as Mulan and Antlers, from its release calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For several months, it was unclear what The New Mutants' new release date would be, and there was even renewed talk about if the movie would be released on VOD or thrown to streaming.
When The Film Will Hit Theaters
As things stand now, Disney is still determined to screen The New Mutants in theaters. As such, the current plan is to throw it onto the big screen on August 28, 2020, making this the movie’s fifth release. Whether this will finally be The New Mutants’ break or if the string of delays will eventually continue, but assuming the plan goes accordingly, folks will finally be able to see this horror-infused comic book movie right as the summer is winding down.
On the other hand, one wouldn't be faulted for wondering if The New Mutants will never get a theatrical release. Instead, perhaps Disney will simply cut its losses and either make it available to buy digitally or put it on a streaming service like Hulu. What was once such a promising title has become a series of misfortunes for a talented cast, a promising director and an intriguing new take on the X-Men lore. Hopefully, if and when we get to see The New Mutants, it proves to be a wonderful surprise. For now, when it will finally arrive remains uncertain.
Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for any major updates concerning The New Mutants, and check out our 2019 release schedule for movies that are still set to come out for the rest of the year.
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Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.