No fooling, I’ve had this article (always titled “New Mutants is never getting released”) sitting in the DRAFTS section of my Cult of Whatever folder for literal years. I never thought this day would come and now that it’s here, I’m not sure I believe it actually did.
Let’s start with what the heck has been the delay.
New Mutants began as part of the Fox-family of Marvel movies, a collection which included the X-Men films, the Fantastic Four movies, and the two Deadpool installments. It was announced back in 2017 alongside a promise of a Deadpool-centered “X-Force” movie (Deadpool 2 was a year away at the time). New Mutants was supposed to represent a shift in the way 20th Century Fox handled their comic book properties. This, I believe, was in response to the critical and commercial success of Logan, not to mention the “just do whatever you want; we’ll leave you alone” approach that made Deadpool so successful.
You have to remember that Fox was, at the time, still reeling as a comic book movie maker. X-Men Apocalypse fell completely flat. The much-hoped-for Fantastic Four reboot ended up DOA, and there wasn’t much else to get excited about. Disney/Marvel on the other hand were making money hand over fist and had secured a deal to bring Spider-Man into the MCU fold. The pressure was on for Fox to compete, and I think they wisely realized they simply couldn’t. So, they decided to do what Fox “the brand” was once best-known for: Counter culture.
The brand that brought us The Simpsons in primetime, When Animals Attack, Married With Children, and other “this is too untraditional for network primetime” offerings struck gold with the irreverent Deadpool and the poignant and serious Logan. Those were relatively small movies compared to their X-Men offerings, meaning they could maximize profits by leveraging their big-name properties with small-to-medium budgeted films.
I should point out that, if Fox had just let Josh Trank make his version of Fantastic Four, it probably would have been right at home with this new approach to Fox’s comic book properties. That being said, there was no remedying Trank’s self-destruction and the movie he would have made—while it might’ve been good (nah)—it wouldn’t have been a faithful translation of the F4 property.
Anyway, where was I?
The brand that brought us The Simpsons in primetime, When Animals Attack, Married With Children, and other “this is too untraditional for network primetime” offerings struck gold with the irreverent Deadpool and the poignant and serious Logan. Those were relatively small movies compared to their X-Men properties, meaning they could maximize profits by leveraging their big name properties with small-to-medium budgeted films.
Enter New Mutants.
New Mutants was supposed to be “X-Men mutants but in a horror movie setting.” Small budget, high concept horror films are a license to print money these days, so that’s a smart idea if you ask me. No wonder Fox jumped on it.
The movie was slated for release in mid-April of 2018. That would have put it two weeks away from the release of Infinity War, and one month away from the release of Deadpool 2. Considering how Deadpool 2 was swallowed up on the backend of Infinity War’s supernova, it’s likely that New Mutants would have been swallowed up by the frontend. Thus, in January of 2018, Fox announced the movie was being delayed until February of 2019.
Something else happened just before that announcement, however. In November of 2017, industry insiders began whispering that Disney was close to securing a deal to buy 20th Century Fox. A month later, the deal was publicly announced, and though the final ink would not be dry on the contract until 2019, the ramifications immediately began reverberating. The writing was on the wall from day one of the announcement: Fox’s Marvel movies are done. They might still release, but it’s a dead franchise all the same.
Fox still had to operate the business as usual, however, which meant their three Marvel films (New Mutants, Deadpool 2, and X-Men: Dark Phoenix) needed to release. Deadpool 2 dropped and was a big hit. New Mutants was supposed to be next on the docket, but as the February 2019 release date approached, news on the movie, advertisements, promotional material…all of it was silent, missing, nonexistent.
Finally Fox announced the movie was being delayed (again) from February of 2019 until August of 2019. Why? They said it was in order to avoid competition with Dark Phoenix. But wait, you say, Dark Phoenix released in June of 2019, so wouldn’t that be close? That’s just two months away. Ah, but Dark Phoenix was originally slated to release in November of 2018, which would have been…two months away from New Mutant’s original February release.
I know, it doesn’t make sense. It’s almost like Fox was a poorly run movie studio that deserved to be gutted.
Anyway, New Mutants was pushed to August and Dark Phoenix did actually release in June of 2019. But, a month before that, an announcement was made that New Mutants would (again, again) be delayed until April 3, 2020. Why? Because Disney had just finished their acquisition and I guess didn’t want the first movie to come out after buying Fox to be a film they knew was a steaming turd of a film.
As the year 2019 wore on, many began to forget about New Mutants. Those who remembered it existed concluded that it would just end being quietly released on Hulu or something. But then a trailer dropped. A new poster was released. The director started tweeting, and people began to say…” oh wow, this thing might actually happen.”
And then, in early 2020…it didn’t.
Instead, COVID-19 happened and the movie industry shut down. And even though everyone following the schadenfreude of this movie concluded that Disney would just release it anyway to get it off the books and let it disappear in the abyss of the current movie climate, no. Disney refused. They instead announced that New Mutants would (again, again, again) be delayed until August 28, 2020.
This is that day. And you know what? It actually came out. They did it. The mad lads really did it. New Mutants is out. If you dare enter a cinema—already a place lacking in hygiene and cleanliness—you can watch it right now. After beginning production in 2015, wrapping production in 2017, and setting their sights on an early-2018 release, New Mutants has finally dropped. And you know what?
6/10 – New Mutants takes an interesting premise and does little with it, leaving the property feeling more like the beginning to an “okay” TV series that would be cancelled after twenty episodes, rather than a bold new approach to comic book movies.
Shoulda just released it on Hulu.