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Trivia / Dark Phoenix

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  • Acting for Two: Jessica Chastain plays both the D'Bari alien Vuk and Margaret Smith, the woman Vuk shapeshifts into the likeness of for disguise.
  • Approval of God: Chris Claremont has praised the film.
    "Thanks to [Simon Kinberg and Sophie Turner] for bringing Jean's story so wonderfully to life! Essentially true to the original comics story, it turned the focus of the X-film from Charley & Eric (& Hank & Raven) to the students, to Scott (& Ororo & Kurt) & most of all, to Jean and did so brilliantly."
  • Billing Displacement:
    • Jennifer Lawrence gets third billing here. She's dead by the end of the first act.
    • Sophie Turner, who plays the movie's titular character, is given fifth billing.
  • Box Office Bomb: Production budget: $200 million. Estimated total budget with prints and advertisements included: $350 million. Total global box office: $252 million. Dark Phoenix represented an absolute franchise low in terms of opening weekend grosses, and a final domestic and global total beneath the original X-Men film — $296 million worldwide, in 2000 dollars — which makes Dark Phoenix the lowest-grossing installment of the main series.

    According to Deadline Hollywood, the reasons for the movie's financial failure included an inflated budget due to extensive reshoots, lack of interest in the prequel series after the mixed reception of X-Men: Apocalypse, lack of promotion and the marketing campaign being muddled (a result of lay-offs related to the Disney-Fox merger), and the release date being in June, where there was tons of competition. The film needed to make about $500 million to be considered profitable, and is expected to lose Fox $100 million to $120 million by the time that the final total is tallied. note  (Later reports suggested that the loss was closer to $130 million.)

    In another, rather depressing analysis, the movie is earned only slightly more domestically in its entire lifetime than Apocalypse earned in its opening weekend (and that movie was a domestic flop), and lost even more money than the universally-maligned 2015 Fantastic Four. (While Fantastic Four was less expensive a film, the massive budget on Dark Phoenix made it a bigger loss for Fox) When Disney addressed lower-than-anticipated earnings for the third quarter of their fiscal year, they singled out Dark Phoenix as one of the key reasons that they came up short, in spite of also releasing the record-shattering Avengers: Endgame in that same quarter (a movie which, contrary to Dark Phoenix, performed vastly above already-high expectations across the globe). As a result, Disney announced that it would take a more direct role in green-lighting films released under the Fox brand (though it was likely intended from the get-go, with or without the failure of Dark Phoenix).
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  • Channel Hop: Because Disney completed its purchase of 20th Century Fox prior to the film's release, they inherited the film's distribution rights.
  • Contractual Obligation Project: Since the movie was already filmed when Disney acquired Fox, the larger company had to honor their new subsidiary's release schedule, even with Marvel beginning to internally discuss plans to reboot the X-Men franchise into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Creator Backlash: Alexandra Shipp, who portrays Storm, had some choice words about feeling that Storm is underused in this movie and X-Men: Apocalypse. She also gave Marvel Studios a rather backhanded compliment in the same exchange, noting that her version of Storm would likely end up being a background character in an big team-up movie:
    Shipp: I would and I wouldn’t [be a fan of joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe], because Storm barely has anything to say as it is. I don’t know about you all (other actors), but, like, we never talk. So it would be really nice if we weren’t piled into yet another jam-packed cast, in which you only see me in the back of the shot like fucking Sasquatch.
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  • Creator Killer: For 20th Century Fox as an independent studio. As mentioned under Box Office Bomb, Disney publicly blamed this filmnote  for a high operating loss and singled it out as a reason they would be scrapping nearly the entirety of Fox's pre-production slate and taking direct control over the brand, focusing instead on intellectual property-driven fare in a manner similar to how Disney operates Lucasfilm and Marvel.
  • Deleted Role: Daniel Cudmore's role was cut in the final version of the film.
  • Dyeing for Your Art:
  • Executive Meddling:
    • Director Simon Kinberg wanted to refilm the original climactic sequence to add more X-Men to a scene that otherwise would have just had Professor X, Cyclops, and Phoenix in it, but Fox deemed it too expensive to rebuild the absolutely massive sets that they made for the sequence — thus resulting in the train sequence.
    • While Disney's acquisition of Fox did not affect the content within the film, it did adversely affect the movie's marketing campaign, as a number of positions were vacated and were replaced by temporary workers. Disney did attempt to give the movie a last-minute marketing push after the merger had been completed, but they did not spend as aggressively to promote the release. One insider says that the film's lone premiere in Los Angeles was done with an eye to controlling cost — a bit of economizing that annoyed the film's creative team.
  • Flip-Flop of God:
    • After Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Hans Zimmer said he was done scoring superhero films. Then he came back in the genre to score Dark Phoenix, and shortly afterward, signed on to co-compose Wonder Woman 1984.
    • It was always stated that Dark Phoenix was to be the beginning of many films to come, but after Disney's buyout of Fox was officially completed, Simon Kinberg changed his tune to the movie having always intended to be the swan song of the series. Some speculate the backtracking or PR speak might be at play.
  • Follow the Leader: An odd example of this happening in the same franchise — Dark Phoenix eschewing X-Men from the title was inspired by Logan doing the same thing.
  • Franchise Killer: Dark Phoenix effectively crushed any argument that could've been made about letting the X-Men continue in a direction separate from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Beforehand, Disney and Marvel made it clear they intended to start fresh with the IP by making a reboot in the MCU following the acquisition of 20th Century Fox.
  • God Never Said That: Jessica Chastain was assumed by virtually everyone, from media outlets to fans, to be playing Lilandra after it was announced she was playing the Big Bad of the film, but it was never explicitly stated to be the case by Fox, which led to Chastain herself revealing that she wasn't the character over social media. The truth ended up being a little more complicated, as Chastain was initially hired to play Lilandra before the intended two-part film was condensed into one movie.
  • In Memoriam: The end credits includes the message "In memory of Stan Lee".
  • Invisible Advertising: One of the stated reasons for the film's poor box office performance was a lack of awareness on the film. One tracking service never had an X-Men movie have a "definite awareness" score below a 90 out of 100 points; Dark Phoenix, conversely, never got higher than a 75. One anonymous executive noted how surreal it was for Rocketman to have a higher level of awareness with general audiences.
  • Jossed:
    • There was a lot of speculation about the identity of Jessica Chastain's "Smith," with popular guesses including Lilandra, Cassandra Nova, or a gender-flipped Mastermind. As it turns out, she's none of those guesses, because her character is an alien named "Vuk", who kills and impersonates a human named Margaret Smith.
    • Any speculation that the film would be adjusted to set up a multiverse crossover with the MCU down the road was also rendered moot when Fox started marketing the movie as the end to the franchise, and word of Marvel Studios taking over with a full reboot became more prominent.
  • Market-Based Title: While the film was released in the US as just Dark Phoenix, internationally it was released as X-Men: Dark Phoenix. This is presumably to more clearly market the film as a sequel similar to Logan which was released in some international markets as Logan: The Wolverine and to X2: X-Men United which was released internationally as just X-Men 2. Upon release to home video in the United States, the X-Men part of the title was reinstated.
  • Playing Against Type: Jessica Chastain is rarely the villain, aside from Crimson Peak. It also marks the first blockbuster role for her since The Huntsman: Winter's War.
  • Posthumous Credit: The film gives an executive producer credit to Stan Lee, who passed away seven months before the movie was released.
  • Reality Subtext: The Mutant Containment Unit end up taking the Mutants away. It's no surprise that the scenes involving this organization were reshoots added after Disney's acquisition of Fox was formally announced.
  • Release Date Change: The film was initially set for release on November 2, 2018, but got moved back to February 14, 2019 to accommodate reshoots and Bohemian Rhapsody (coincidentally directed by Bryan Singer) took its slot. And then it was moved back again, to June 6, 2019, just a day after its first trailer and poster (with the February 14th date on it) were released. Alita: Battle Angel took its place. note 
  • Troubled Production: If the articles by Deadline Hollywood and The Hollywood Reporter are anything to go by, the film had had lots of behind-the-scenes turmoil.
    • The trouble began when Fox executives looked at the poor critical and commercial reception for X-Men: Apocalypse and felt that the film was an anomaly of what was otherwise a consistently well-performing franchise, rather than evidence that audiences were growing frustrated with its creative direction. In what was a desperate attempt to win back the fans' trust, Fox decided to reboot the The Dark Phoenix Saga, which they previously tackled with the aforementioned X-Men: The Last Stand to disatrous results. Simon Kinberg, who had been a recurring producer for the series and co-wrote The Last Stand, won the trust of the stars during production of Apocalypse and was chosen to direct in his feature film debut, despite having lost credibility in the eyes of fans due to his role in the infamous Fantastic Four (2015) reboot.
    • The film was originally planned to be two movies, but during late pre-production the studio changed gears and said it was to be one movie. Simon Kinberg had struggled to get Dark Phoenix right as a result of this.
    • Filming went smoothly, but once Fox executives got to see a rough cut, both they and Kinberg agreed that the film was a mess and decided to begin reshoots. Thanks to having to renegotiate many of the actors' contracts, the reshoots didn't occur for over a year. It was during this time that Rupert Murdoch, having grown disillusioned with the trend of media consolidation, decided to sell Fox and its entertainment assets to Disney, who owned Marvel Comics and would almost certainly move to send the characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since the deal wouldn't be finalized for nearly a year-and-a-half, Fox was forced to continue on with the film. The reshoots ended up resulting in the film moving up its release date by several months. All this was happening as the marketing campaign was rolling out.
    • Then things went to hell. James Cameron, who was producing Alita: Battle Angel for Fox, complained that his film was scheduled to open against Mary Poppins Returns, Aquaman and Bumblebee, fearing a box office slaughter from all three. Consequently, Fox moved up Dark Phoenix's release date by four months, making it a summer blockbuster, while giving Alita the February slot originally reserved for Dark Phoenix. Several Fox executives, including current studio head Emma Watts, rebelled against the move, but were overruled. As the merger with Disney closed, many of the film's marketing staff were forced out in the post-merger shakeup, resulting in the film's campaign lacking any sort of message or direction. Not helping matters was that the film was mercilessly mocked before its release, seeing as a lame duck entry in a franchise that was doomed to end in the merger's aftermath.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Jessica had originally signed on to play Lilandra back when the film was planned as a two parter. But when the studio forced it to be a single film her role kept constantly changing. Jessica herself even confirmed this.
    • K-Pop singer Rain was considered for a role in the film but he turned it down due to scheduling conflicts.
    • Mystique and Magneto were not originally intended to appear as Jennifer Lawrence implied in several interviews that she was done with playing Mystique, though she said in an interview that she had a change of heart as she didn't want fans to be confused if her character got the Chuck Cunningham Syndrome treatment.
    • Angelina Jolie was considered to have Jessica’s role. Surprisingly enough, her estranged husband Brad Pitt was considered to play Cable in Deadpool 2. He did appear as the Vanisher, albeit not for very long.
    • The movie was originally intended to be the start of a trilogy, presumably bouncing from the 1990s to the 2000s to the 2010s between installments. This would have been much like how First Class, the "past" section of Days of Future Past, and Apocalypse all prominently featured specific time periods. However, the trilogy was cancelled following Disney's acquisition of Fox and confirmation of their plans to completely reboot the X-Men. Furthermore, it wouldn't have happened even if Dark Phoenix was successful, as Fox had shifted their focus away from the two planned sequels in favor of developing spin-offs as a back-up plan in the event that the merger fell through. It's speculated the reshoots were to retool the film into a Grand Finale to the series rather than the first in a trilogy like originally planned. Also, the film itself was going to be a two-parter with the intent for both parts to be shot back-to-back.
    • The entire climax had to be completely reworked when the crew discovered it would be far too similar to another comic book movie that would be coming out first. They haven't said exactly which one, but by far the popular guess is Captain Marvel, given that the original ending was described as taking place above Earth's atmosphere with Phoenix challenging an alien invasion. Kinberg has downplayed the CM comparisons, and claims the movie that the ending would've been similar to was actually Captain America: Civil War.
    • Simon Kinberg considered giving one more appearance to Wolverine on the franchise's way out, but ended up figuring it would be too creepy seeing Hugh Jackman interacting with the much younger Sophie Turner playing his former love interest (and of course, the kind of material Turner was known for from Game of Thrones really didn't help).
    • Vuk went by multiple other names in previous iterations of the project. She was initially referred to as "Smith" early on in the promotion cycle for the film, and her character was even given an emoji that had that name in spite of it never being spoken during the film. Furthermore, in an earlier cuts of the film, Vuk was actually referred to as Lilandra, making the aliens Shi'ar as well. However, this reportedly changed multiple times during testing for the film, and at one point Jessica Chastain was simply credited as "Alien". In the end, "Smith" is part of the name of the human Vuk kills and replaces, Margaret Smith.
    • Psylocke and Jubilee were planned to return with the former likely going to pull a Heel–Face Turn but Olivia Munn and Lana Condor had to drop out due to at the time shooting The Predator and To All the Boys I've Loved Before respectively. Had the film originally been two parts like originally planned, it's possible that they could have returned.
    • Skrulls were going to be the villains of this film, with the climax being Jean interrupting Cyclops and Xavier's meeting with the world governments at the United Nations to reveal several of the people there were already Skrulls, leading to the three having to repel an entire alien invasion. However, it should be noted that the way that the D'Bari were approached in the film effectively made them Skrulls in all but name, and the ending was originally cut because it was deemed to expensive to reshoot (as test audiences wanted the other mutants to appear).
  • Word of God: Simon Kinberg confirmed that Jean survived in the final battle against Vuk, thus confirming her fate is indeed a Foregone Conclusion, given that she's alive in the epilogue of X-Men: Days of Future Past.
  • Working Title: X-Men: Supernova, X-Men: Teen Spirit and X-Men: Pulsar. Also, X-Men: Dark Phoenix before they finally dropped the X-Men out of the title.


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