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Dark Phoenix Posts Worst Opening Weekend In X-Men Franchise History

There may never be a light at the end of the tunnel for Dark Phoenix

In its first three days out in theaters, from June 7 to June 9, the Simon Kinberg-directed X-Men flick Dark Phoenix pulled in a measly $33 million domestically. This means Dark Phoenix officially holds the worst debut weekend in franchise history, trailing over $20 million behind the 11th-place opener, 2013's The Wolverine

To add insult to injury, Dark Phoenix didn't even win the weekend box office. The film lost out to The Secret Life of Pets 2 by a pretty wide margin: Dark Phoenix earned $33 million from theaters in the U.S. and Canada, while Illumination and Universal's animated film took home $47.1 million. Additionally, Dark Phoenix failed to come close to hitting its projected box office pull of $50 million, which also would have seen the film sink to last place on the list of X-Men movie debuts. 

The president of theatrical distribution at Disney, Cathleen Taff, addressed Dark Phoenix's abysmal opening weekend (via USA Today): "It's softer than we hoped. While the film didn't open the way we wanted, we think the legacy of the X-Men series is important and it's more important than how one film opens. We're trying to keep it in perspective."

As it stands, 20th Century Fox is hemorrhaging cash with Dark PhoenixDeadline reports that the studio may end up losing $100 million or more on the film in a worst-case scenario. To bring the film to life, Fox shelled out a reported $350 million (including the cost of prints and advertising) — a large portion of which was spent on overhauling Dark Phoenix and reshooting most of the third act after Kinberg and co. realized that the ending was too similar to that of Captain America: Civil War. Analysts predict that Dark Phoenix will earn about $300 million to $325 million globally when all is said and done. More pessimistic insiders estimate that Dark Phoenix's global yield could drop "like a stone" to $285 million or lower. 

It's not difficult to see why Dark Phoenix is going down in flames: between the reshoots, the delays, and the Disney-Fox merger happening in the background, the film didn't exactly have a clear course for takeoff. People are pointing fingers every which way — some blaming Fox's apparent cluelessness to the fact that Dark Phoenix and The Secret Life of Pets 2 were set to open on the same day, and others saying Jean Grey actress Sophie Turner wasn't shown as "beautiful" enough in the film's trailers and posters as the reason why Dark Phoenix is struggling financially — but it's evident that it wasn't just one thing that caused this crash-and-burn outcome. Sadly, it seems Dark Phoenix was destined to become a critically-hated box office bomb before it premiered on June 7.

Dark Phoenix might not be able to recoup its cost of production and distribution, but the minuscule silver lining here is that the film's poor box office performance might motivate Marvel to pay more attention to the X-Men property now that it has control of its many mutant characters. Taking another stab at the Dark Phoenix storyline, which follows Jean as she transforms into the vicious Dark Phoenix and turns on her mutant family, doesn't seem like the best idea given what happened with both Dark Phoenix and X-Men: The Last Stand, another X-Men film that adapted the famous comic plot. Rebooting the X-Men franchise and doing with it what Marvel has done with its own cinematic universe as of late, however, is a solid plan. It's not likely that Marvel will get started on reviving the X-movies for quite some time, though this certainly is something for fans to look forward to.