Meet ‘The New Mutants’, Same as the Old Mutants

How a merger, a pandemic and a bunch of rumors contributed to the delay of a film five years in the making

After much drama, Tenet is now finally out in some global theaters and will soon hit a few American multiplexes. But there’s still no 2020 release with a more sordid release schedule history than The New Mutants. The X-Men spinoff started production way back in 2015, a magical lifetime ago when Disney didn’t yet own 20th Century Fox and coronavirus wasn’t in the collective vocabulary.

Disney execs are sticking to their guns about The New Mutants opening in theaters on Aug. 28. It’s coming out for real this time, no foolin’. I’ll believe that when I see it, but in the meantime, let’s take a closer look at the movie’s history .

May 2015

Fox execs give The Fault In Our Stars director Josh Boone the green light to co-write and direct a film adaptation of New Mutants, a 1980s X-Men comic book spinoff series featuring teenage mutants-in-training. Boone will write with his friend Knate Lee. The plan is to create a standalone spinoff comic film, something apart from the larger X-Men franchise as a whole.

May 27, 2016

Fox releases X-Men: Apocalypse in theaters. It is the third film in a new series of X-Men films including First Class and Days of Future Past. It is a financial success and a critical failure.

August 2016

Writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber work on a new draft of the script, which is now being described as a “Stephen King meets John Hughes” YA horror superhero film. 

Spring 2017

Pre-production starts in Boston. The New Mutants gets its first release date: April 13, 2018. Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones and Anya Taylor-Joy from The Witch are set to star.

Boone confirms to Entertainment Weekly that The New Mutants will definitely be a horror film, albeit a PG-13 one: “We are making a full-fledged horror movie set within the X-Men universe. There are no costumes. There are no supervillains. We’re trying to do something very, very different.”

June 2017

The rest of the cast takes shape. Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton, Teen Wolf’s Henry Zaga and American actress Blu Hunt sign on. Brazilian actress Alice Braga takes over for Rosario Dawson after Dawson steps down.

Script doctors and Fox execs work on the story to take it into more of a YA direction than the horror film Boone originally envisioned.

July 10, 2017

Principal photography starts in Boston. Boone says in an interview that the script changed again, this time because of Apocalypse’s performance. The New Mutants will now be set in the modern-day instead of in the 1980s, since Apocalypse was set in the past and Fox execs didn’t want to go that route again.

Sept. 8, 2017

Warner Bros. releases its remake of Stephen King’s It. The film makes more than $701 million worldwide.

Sept. 16, 2017

Filming ends on The New Mutants.

Fall 2017

Fox execs like the first cut of The New Mutants, but, seeing the success of It, now want to make a version of Mutants that relies more on the horror elements Boone originally planned. The first trailer markets more of the horror film angle and less of the YA angle.

Oct. 13, 2017

The first trailer for The New Mutants drops (on a Friday the 13th, naturally). True to the trailer requirements of the last decade, it features a slowed-down, creepy cover of a classic song (in this case, it’s Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2). The plot: the mutants are stuck in a hospital that’s more like a haunted house. It looks sufficiently creepy and is definitely a new take on an X-Men film.

 

 

Jan. 2018

Surprise! Fox execs want to push the release date to make room for another X-Men-adjacent property, Deadpool 2. New release date: Feb. 22, 2019.

March 2018

Fox delays The New Mutants again, and this time, it’s to reshoot what some reports have pegged as at least 50 percent of the film so that it can be scarier and as distinctive of a genre outing as Logan and Deadpool. Oh, and there’s also another X-Men property to contend with, the Sophie Turner-led Dark Phoenix, which is now pushed from the 2018 slate to Feb. 2019. The new release date for The New Mutants is Aug. 2, 2019.

March 20, 2019

Disney finalizes its acquisition of 20th Century Fox for $73.1 billion, giving the House of Mouse full control over all of Fox’s superhero assets, which include spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and..the X-Men.

Dark Phoenix goes to a June 7 release date. Disney pushes The New Mutants back to April 3, 2020. Reshoots may still have to happen. There is some talk of cutting bait and just releasing The New Mutants on Disney+, but Disney execs say they still want to release the film theatrically.

Aug. 2019

Disney execs say they are worried about The New Mutants’ box office hopes. It confirms the film will not be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but will be closely aligned with Boone’s original vision.

Disney releases Dark Phoenix. It is a box office flop and is critically panned.

Jan. 6, 2020
Disney releases the first New Mutants trailer in more than two years. The April 3, 2020 release date is still set.

 

March 12, 2020

Disney yanks The New Mutants from its schedule because of COVID-19. Boone also claims to Entertainment Weekly that those 2018 reshoots definitely never happened.

May 2020

As theaters start to talk about reopening, Disney sets another release date for The New Mutants: Aug. 28, 2020, more than two years later than its original release date.

July 23, 2020

Comic-Con, like everything else this year, happensover Zoom. The New Mutants panel reveals the first two minutes of the movie, proving this is actually a movie that exists and not some fever dream cooked up in a lab.

 

 

Boone says in one of the panels that the film was always headed to theaters (and not streaming services) because of contractual obligations.

Aug. 28, 2020

The New Mutants will hit theaters. Or VOD screens. Or drive-in screens. Maybe all of them at the same time. For real. Fingers crossed.

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Jake Harris

Jake Harris is a Texas-based journalist whose writing about pop culture and entertainment has appeared in the Austin American-Statesman, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the Nashville Scene and more. You can find more of his writings at jakeharrisbog.com or through his pop culture newsletter, Jacob's Letter.

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