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X-Men: Dark Phoenix, New Mutants release dates delayed

Fox may have lit up the internet last week with its magnificent trailer for Deadpool 2but all is not necessarily going well in the X-Men cinematic universe.

Late Monday night, the studio released the surprising news that it was significantly delaying the release dates for X-Men: Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants, moving the release dates for the mutant movies back several months.

Originally set for release on November 2, Dark Phoenix will now premiere on February 14, 2019. New Mutants, already hit with one surprising delay, will now be released on August 2, 2019.

According to a report by Variety, the release date previously occupied by Dark Phoenix will be taken by the Rami Malek-starring Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which is being moved up by a month and change from its original release date on December 25.

The puzzling delays are sure to fuel the rumor mill in negative ways for the two X-Men movies — particularly New Mutants. Previously, reports have swirled that the delay was meant to add an entirely new character to the movie, but that alone wouldn't account for the drastic, now-multiple release date retreats. 

According to The Tracking Board, there is speculation that the delay might be part of a ploy to premiere the movies as a part of Disney's upcoming streaming service, which is set to launch sometime in 2019. If this is the case, the delays could be seen as a practical measure to wait out the legal wrangling of the in-progress Disney-Fox merger, which will conclude with the majority of 21st Century Fox's creative assets in the ownership of Disney. 

Launching the currently-unnamed service with two big-budget superhero blockbusters originally meant for theatrical release, the logic goes, would certainly be a way to make a splash — but would it really the right move for keeping fans happy?

While those rumors aren't backed up by anything concrete, it's easy to see how they would take hold in the absence of any more logical explanation. Remember, The New Mutants was originally supposed to hit theaters just over two weeks from today, with trailers already rolling out for an April 13 release date — now it's well over a year away. That's not typical, extremely strange, and according to at least one of the movie's stars, disappointing and frustrating.

In addition to shuffling the mutant movie release dates, Fox has also briefly delayed its upcoming Joe Cornish-directed The Kid Who Would Be King from a February 14, 2019 release date to March 1, two weeks later. The studio has also taken Logan director James Mangold's police thriller The Force, originally set for March 1, 2019, off the calendar entirely.

At this point, in the absence of any explanation from the studio, your guesses are as good as ours. In addition to these movies already in production, Fox is also in the process of developing movies for Marvel characters Multiple Man, the Silver Surfer, and Doctor Doom. If the Disney-Fox merger is truly the force wreaking havoc on the release dates of these relatively complete comic book projects, then we can only imagine there will be major consequences for the ones in development as well. As always, we'll keep you posted as we learn more.