Dark Phoenix Became X-Men’s Biggest Bomb When It Released One Year Ago

Dark Phoenix opened for Thursday night previews on June 6, 2019, going on to become the lowest-grossing entry in the long-running X-Men franchise. The first film directed by franchise writer-producer Simon Kinberg, Dark Phoenix earned $5 million in Thursday night showings, the second-lowest for any X-Verse film: only the Hugh Jackman-starring spinoff The Wolverine scored less with a $4 million preview in 2013. Followup to the Bryan Singer-directed X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse, the 1990s set Dark Phoenix pit the X-Men against one of their own when the telepathic Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) was corrupted by a powerful cosmic force and targeted by shape-shifting alien Vuk (Jessica Chastain).

Opening against Universal Pictures and Illumination's animated The Secret Life of Pets 2 after being pushed from November 2018 and February 2019, Dark Phoenix was tracking for a franchise-low opening weekend of $50 million three weeks before its June 7 bow. The X-Men sequel ultimately opened to just shy of $33 million for a second place finish behind Pets.

Dark Phoenix earned a global total of $246.3 million, a franchise worst that failed to top the $296.8 million brought in by 2000's first X-Men.

Deadpool 2, starring Ryan Reynolds in a sequel to his 2016 R-rated blockbuster, remains the overall franchise's highest-grossing film at $786.6 million worldwide following a $125.5 million opening weekend in May 2018. 2006's The Last Stand, which also adapted the classic Dark Phoenix storyline from the Marvel Comics with an older Jean (Famke Janssen), holds the best opening of the main X-Men franchise with $102 million.

Days after Dark Phoenix's tepid opening, an expected loss of more than $100 million was reported when considering costs of prints and advertising. Nearly one year later, the total loss was reported to be $133 million, making it the biggest box office bomb of 2019. On Rotten Tomatoes, Dark Phoenix received a 23% "rotten" from critics, the lowest of any X-Men movie.

"It clearly is a movie that didn't connect with audiences that didn't see it, it didn't connect enough with audiences that did see it. So that's on me," Kinberg said in a June 2019 interview KCRW's Kim Masters. "I loved making the movie, and I loved the people I made the movie with."

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Kinberg earlier told ComicBook.com he pitched Dark Phoenix as "the culmination of this cycle of X-Men stories" started with the franchise's first film in 2000.

After Disney releases X-Verse spinoff The New Mutants, currently scheduled for theatrical release in August following a series of delays, Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige will reboot X-Men as part of the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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