How does a company the size of Disney claim they’re short on scratch? The house that Mickey the Mouse built owns everything now: Marvel, Star Wars, and, as of a few months ago, everything Fox. And yet their fiscal third quarter came in a bit under expectations — expectations that were cartoonishly high, mind you, and yet Disney honchos are still not happy. And according to Variety, they’ve put the blame primarily, if not exclusively, on Dark Phoenix.
When it hit theaters in early June, the last in Fox’s longtime run of X-Men films proved to be one of the few superhero pictures in our comic book movie-mad future to underperform. Budgeted at around $200 million — which included pricey reshoots to change an ending that was too similar to that of Captain Marvel — Dark Phoenix wound up hustling only $65 million domestically. (It fared better overseas, netting $186 million.)
Dark Phoenix was a Fox baby, and Disney wound up singling out their latest corporate acquisition, saying they’re dragging the company down, however slightly. Execs tallied that, put together, the live-action Fox film wing posted third quarter losses of $170 million, which they blame on Dark Phoenix as well as, curiously, the expensive, star-studded racing drama Ford v. Ferrari, which won’t even come out until end of year.
However fair or unfair it is to admonish Fox for its losses — especially when their new overlords wound up rescheduling a number of their products, including the Amy Adams thriller Woman in the Window, plus the perpetually in limbo New Mutants — Disney was spooked enough that they took extreme measures. Variety reports that they’re “axing” the majority of Fox’s in-development film projects, all while “refocusing output.”
What the latter means is this: They’ll be digging into the Fox vaults to rework old (or not-so-old) war horses as new streaming content. Get ready to enjoy such reboots (or sequels, or whatever) as Home Alone, Cheaper by the Dozen, Night at the Museum and The Diary of a Wimpy Kid not in theaters but on your couch.
But don’t worry too too much: Avatar sequels are still happening, as is Steven Spielberg’s redo of West Side Story, and maybe even some more Planet of the Apes, though nothing from the latter is officially on the pike. Their art house wing, Fox Searchlight — home of last year’s The Favourite, for one — is also not in danger, while the brooding Brad Pitt space drama Ad Astra, from The Lost City of Z director James Gray, is still set to bow in just over a month. And of course, Disney still has Disney+ en route. So the X-Men haven’t ruined absolutely everything.