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The Real Reason The New Mutants Won't Immediately Go To Streaming

It looks like The New Mutants won't be invading your home any time soon.

Director Josh Boone threw cold water on the notion that the troubled film, the last one in the X-Men series to be produced by Fox Studios before its takeover by Disney, would go directly to streaming via Disney+ or Hulu. The reason, Boone said, was simple: Contractual obligations.

Just in case you need a brief refresher: If The New Mutants were a person, it would be afraid to go outside for fear of getting struck by lightning, or perhaps flattened by a falling safe. The flick, which wrapped shooting all the way back in 2017, endured numerous delays as a result of production troubles, conflicts with the studio, and that pesky merger — after which the speculation that that Disney might shunt it off to one of its streamers began nearly immediately. In May of last year, however, the Mouse House set a theatrical release date of April 3, 2020, a date that just happened to coincide with the worldwide explosion of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The New Mutants is now slated to hit the big screen on August 28, 2020, and at its panel at last weekend's Comic-Con@Home, Boone explained that legal issues would keep the flick from going straight to streaming. "With most movies, you sign contracts that guarantee a theatrical release, so it needs to open [theatrically] to ever go digital in the first place," the director said. "We just, too, would like to see people [go] see it in the theater. But it needs to obviously be at the right time when it's safe to go back" (via Collider).

That last remark raises the question: Will it be safe to go out to the movies in about a month? The answer, of course, is that it depends on a whole lot of variables.

Will the release date for The New Mutants finally stick?

Chief among those variables is whether the spread of COVID-19 in the United States has really begun to plateau, as appears to be the case, or whether there are still spikes yet to come. Also important is whether the film distribution industry can enable sufficient safety measures (such as frequent disinfecting, contact-free ticketing and concessions, and social distancing) in order to make cinema-going safe, and publicize those measures to the degree that general audiences feel safe going back to the theater.

There are a number of theater chains that have opened some venues with just such measures in place, while others (such as AMC, the nation's largest) have remained shuttered. Virtually all of 2020's major releases have been shuffled down the schedule to late 2020 or 2021; heck, even the highly-anticipated Tenet, which director Christopher Nolan has been dead set on giving a wide, traditional theatrical release, has been delayed numerous times from its initial release date of July 17 (it's currently slated to drop on September 3).

It's also worth noting that, if we're being frank, The New Mutants faced a tough road with audiences even before the pandemic threw the entire entertainment industry into turmoil. All of those delays didn't exactly instill confidence in the flick's potential audience, and its status as something of an outlier — only tangentially connected to the rest of the X-Men movies, and definitely not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — might also have worked against it.

Having said that, the trailers — not to mention the first three minutes of the opening scene, which were shared at the Comic-Con panel — look awesome, and we share Disney's cautious optimism that the film will actually, finally, make its theatrical debut on August 28. At the very beginning of the panel, Disney announced the impending release with a card sporting the new date, accompanied by a tiny note at the bottom: "Fingers crossed."