Is Covid-19 Saving ‘The New Mutants’ from the Jaws of Failure?

Filmed in the summer of 2017, the first trailer for this Marvel comics movie in the universe of the X-Men came out in October 2017 with a theatrical release date set for April 2018. This was then pushed back, not once, not twice, not even thrice, but at least four times! 

The Fox/Disney merger caused huge uncertainty with a number of projects that were in early stages of production but as this was essentially finished already and undergoing some reshoots it seemed to be shelved for a while, surprising many when it did get a new cinematic release scheduled under the Disney ownership. All seemed positive for it to come out in April until the COVID-19 pandemic pushed all movie releases back, making this a punchline and declared ‘cursed’ by critics and pundits. 

Disney announced this week that they’re pushing everything else on their schedule back again, most imminent of these was ‘Mulan’. It wouldn’t have been surprising then for this to be included in the list of films getting new release dates, though as it’s already been pushed so many times it seemed like it would be taken off the release schedule altogether and instead just go to streaming, but, as it’s not a good fit for Disney+, Hulu isn’t international, and pre-existing agreements seem to suggest it would have to go to initially HBO Max (also not international) as an exclusive streaming platform.

With the ComicCon panel online sparking rumours it was about to have a new date (the same day Disney moved a bunch of other titles to new dates) or be dropped on streaming, which would’ve been a great way to do it if that was what they were going to do, in the end, the panel brought neither. So, when the perfect opportunity to move or release the movie passes with nothing changing, ‘New Mutants’ now stands as one of the very first new wide releases on the schedule and by far the best known.

That leaves us with two possibilities. One, it’s about to be moved back yet again but Disney didn’t take the prime opportunity to announce that. Or two, something that could be sheer brilliance, ‘The New Mutants’ is going to get released as scheduled on August 28th, becoming one of the first new movies in cinemas in months.

Recently there have been other films proudly announcing that they were going to be deliberately releasing as one of the first new wide-releases, some suggesting they were doing it altruistically to benefit cinemas, others admitting they hoped to boost their box office chances. ‘The New Mutants’ wasn’t seen as one of those, it was caught up as a victim of the international cinema closures, yet now, by apparently holding to the once merely optimistic August date, it may give Disney an opportunity to turn a long-shelved, almost scrapped, troubled production, into at least a modest box-office success.

Marketing the movie with a stronger emphasis on its X-Men ties, a young cast popular from ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Game of Thrones’, even highlighting the director’s huge success with ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, could tempt people, especially those who are not in the older, vulnerable groups, back out to cinemas. 

When it looked like the film was being shelved and reworked, this seemed unlikely to get people into even a quarter of the seats in cinema screens, now, after there have been next to no new films released for nearly half a year, this has a really good chance of filling every available seat in many cinemas. Being as it was a film that might have originally been put into just one or two of the smaller screens with a few slots per day, it’ll now get a far bigger release than even the last X-Men film, potentially taking half, or more if popular, of the empty screens. What a potential turnaround. 

I’m hoping this actually is Disney’s plan, if so it’s a brilliant one, though I’ve got to resign myself to the more likely scenario that it’s either about to be rescheduled or reshelved yet again. I hope not, because I’m not the only one who has gone from originally only going to see this at the cinema if I heard really excellent reviews and found myself with some spare time and money, to planning to see it at my earliest possible convenience because I’m desperate to get back to seeing things at the cinema and a weird psychedelic super-powered horror could be just the ticket!

Mid-Week Musings: The Adventures of Super-Sorkin and Wonder-Whedon!

Ok, so thus far Aaron Sorkin has only said he has taken some meetings with Marvel and DC, but even the prospect of ‘The Wally West Wing’ or ‘A Few Good Supermen’ (I could go on) has me very excited.

True, they would not be the titles, I was being silly. What’s not silly though is my belief that Sorkin is one of the best screenwriters alive. As one of the biggest issues DC especially has contended with is the quality of the screenplays they’re working with, so the chance of having someone as skilled as Sorkin involved in any way gives me a little hope that the DC Extended Universe movies could get better. I can’t imagine Aaron Sorkin resolving a mortal clash between two diametrically opposed heroes merely by invoking their mum’s name!

I have a sad feeling it’s one of those partnerships that is discussed but never develops to the point of actually getting the film made. Even so, just the knowledge that someone over at Warner Bros has raised the idea of involving a writer of Sorkin’s calibre is the tiniest glimmer of hope in an otherwise increasingly bleak and ever-darkening franchise.

Hark, wait, that’s not all! The other recent development is in the form of a high-level ‘defection’ of sorts. Mr Joss Whedon (he of geekdom fame) has reportedly been signed to make a Batgirl movie for DC.

It’s not entirely fair to call this a defection, as some may know, Whedon once tried to get a ‘Wonder Woman’ reboot going, with Adrianne Palicki in the lead role though it never got past filming a pilot. He’s well-known for bringing strong female characters to the screen, so putting aside the notion that a female protagonist must be directed by a female director, I challenge anyone to come up with a better person for the job.

I love Joss Whedon’s work, so his move from Marvel to DC is in my opinion the most promising hope of a shot in the arm for the DCEU. We have already seen him at work in the big-stakes hero genre, pulling off the mammoth task of ‘The Avengers’ and following up strongly (if not as satisfyingly) with ‘Age of Ultron’. It’s too late to hope he will be brought on as a steadying hand for ‘Justice League’ but as DC’s lineup enters a second stage (not ‘phase’ as Marvel have coined that term) he could be a hugely beneficial influence.

Imagine if both of these prospects came to fruition! That could bring in a new era and palpable shift for the world of comic book movies like no other that’s come before. In this increasingly ‘R-Rated’ phase of the ongoing phenomenon, Sorkin especially could usher in a move towards serious thinking more than serious fighting that would offer a lot for those of us who want the depth and complexity that many of the comics and graphic novels have long offered only to be simplified for screen so they’re more box-office friendly. Studios are now aware that audiences will turn up for these movies not just despite but possibly even because they break from the mainstreamed and family-friendly norms.

50 Shards

A man in a Glasgow cinema this weekend was glassed (an attack using a glass or bottle as a weapon) when he asked a group of rowdy women to be quiet in a screening of ’50 Shades of Grey’. Presumably the women were noisily commenting on all the ‘neeps and tatties’ in the film! The woman was ironically put in handcuffs and taken away by the police!

I’ve been in many a screening where people have spoilt my enjoyment of the movie by making too much noise, and to be honest, I rarely do anything about it, but I’ve never feared violence. Once, a few young women in the row behind myself and friends were talking through a film, so one of my friends who herself was a young woman of their age turned around and in her strongest Scouse accent asked them to please be quiet… they did… you don’t mess with a Scouser!

It’s sad when people are in fear of a vicious attack for trying to enjoy a film they’ve paid a lot of money to see, but should you ask noisy fellow cinema goers to be shush or just suffer through it?