Fans are still debating whether The New Mutants will ever reach theaters, let alone whether it will open on its current August premiere date. Now director Josh Boone says there isn't much choice but to wait for theaters to open up. Boone tells Collider that the studio is contractually obligated to put The New Mutants into movie theaters before releasing it on other platforms. "With most movies, you sign contracts that guarantee a theatrical release, so it needs to open to ever go digital in the first place," Boone says. "We just, too, would like to see people to see it in the theater. But it needs to obviously be at the right time when it's safe to go back."
There's been discussion online about why Disney doesn't release The New Mutants, which Fox first set to open in 2017, onto video on demand or streaming services. One problem is that HBO has a deal pre-dating Disney's purchase of 20th Century Fox that grants it exclusive first streaming rights to all Fox movies for the next two years. If Disney did push The New Mutants onto streaming, it would have to be on HBO Max.
There's also the portion of the Disney/Fox deal guaranteeing any Fox movie that was complete or in post-production at the time of the purchase would be released into theaters. At the time, it seemed like a simple guarantee that Disney would put Fox's movies on a shelf somewhere and forget about them. Now, due to the unforeseen circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, it may be creating additional complications.
Boone makes it sound like such stipulations are commonplace, but other films have released straight to streaming without checking in with theaters first. The Disney film Artemis Fowl went straight to Disney+. Trolls World Tour opened in theaters at the same time as it debuted on video on demand, becoming the most-watched-at-home movie for the past three weeks, though going that route sparked ire with theaters and some of the film's stars.
Disney describes The New Mutants as "an original horror thriller set in an isolated hospital where a group of young mutants is being held for psychiatric monitoring. When strange occurrences begin to take place, both their new mutant abilities and their friendships will be tested as they battle to try and make it out alive." The film is directed by Josh Boone and written by Boone & Knate Lee. The New Mutants stars Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, and Henry Zaga. Simon Kinberg, Karen Rosenfelt, and Lauren Shuler Donner produced the film with Stan Lee and Michele Imperato Stabile serving as executive producers.
The New Mutants opens in theaters on August 28th.