We got a third and presumably final trailer for Dark Phoenix this morning. That’s not a surprise, as X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse both had three trailers, and it makes sense that Fox would have something ready to go for Avengers: Endgame. Yes, this morning’s X-Men trailer drop kicks off what could be a flurry of pre-Endgame trailer drops.
Hobbs and Shaw gets a new trailer tomorrow, while we’ll see if (speculation alert) Men in Black International, Detective Pikachu and Rocketman get new teases for the big summer kick-off flick. So the good news is that this third trailer for what is the final chapter in the ongoing X-Men franchise (New Mutants is something of a stand-alone) is the best one so far. The bad news is that it’s not a grandiose improvement on what has come before.
It’s no secret that the second attempt at a Dark Phoenix adaptation has been bedeviled by almost as much behind-the-scenes melodrama as the first attempt. But while X-Men: The Last Stand was coming off the much-liked X2: X-Men United (and existed in a time when mega-movies were less common and the X-Men franchise was among the biggest of the big), Dark Phoenix is the follow-up to the disappointing Apocalypse. That film earned just $155 million and $543 million worldwide, partially thanks to a whopping $121 million in China.
That was huge for a superhero flick in 2016, and all signs point to this chapter needing another China bailout. Of course, with Fox now part of the Disney empire and Kevin Feige eventually set to reboot the property somewhere around Phase Five of the MCU, Disney is actually better off if Dark Phoenix flops. I’m not presuming intentional sabotage, but if Dark Phoenix turns out to be a critically-acclaimed super-smash, well, then it’ll be harder to justify starting over even within the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I still maintain Dark Phoenix got shifted from November to February to June partially because Fox (and eventually Disney) had more interest in Bohemian Rhapsody and Alita: Battle Angel breaking out. Simon Kinberg’s Dark Phoenix isn’t going to come anywhere near the $900 million total of Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody. But at this juncture, besting the global cume of Alita: Battle Angel is no guarantee.
That may sound hyperbolic, but consider a $45 million debut and a 2.3x multiplier (like Apocalypse) for a $108 million domestic total followed by a 29/71 domestic/overseas split in line with Apocalypse. That would give the X-Men flick just $375 million global. That would be $20 million below Alita: Battle Angel’s $405 million cume (albeit on a $170 million budget).
For reference, X-Men: First Class earned $146 million domestic from a $55 million debut on the same weekend in 2011. It earned $207.2 million overseas without playing in China. Conversely, Apocalypse earned $121.8 million of its $388.5 million foreign cume from China, giving it $267 million overseas without China. So, more than even Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix will probably be counting on a Chinese rescue.
Even if Dark Phoenix, starring the star of the biggest TV show around (Game of Thrones‘s Sophie Turner) and co-starring one of the biggest movies stars on the planet (Jennifer Lawrence) performs like First Class (a 2.65x multiplier) domestically with a similar domestic/overseas split to Apocalypse, that’s still (giving it a $50 million debut weekend) a $132 million domestic and $457 million global cume. That would be around $325 million overseas, just over the $317 million earned by Alita: Battle Angel outside of North America. Yes, Dark Phoenix will probably outgross the Robert Rodriguez-directed and James Cameron-produced flick, but it’s not a guarantee.