Disney is reportedly unhappy with Fox's 'New Mutants,' and it's a sign the troubled 'X-Men' spin-off could hit Hulu instead of theaters

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  • Disney is reportedly unimpressed with Fox's "X-Men" spin-off movie, "New Mutants," and doesn't think it can succeed at the box office, according to Variety.
  • The troubled movie has been delayed three times and is currently scheduled to hit theaters in April.
  • But evidence is mounting that the movie might never hit theaters, and could head straight to streaming.
  • "The ability to move the chess pieces of content between the big screen and your very own small screen platform offers a level of flexibility that may become a major part of release strategies in the years to come," Paul Dergarabedian, the Comscore senior media analyst, told Business Insider.
  • Disney doesn't want another "X-Men" disaster after "Dark Phoenix" bombed at the box office.

Disney's Fox acquisition has gotten off to a rocky start.

After the box-office failure of "Dark Phoenix," the company is now unimpressed with Fox's "X-Men" spin-off movie, "New Mutants," and doesn't think it has major box-office potential, according to a Variety report on Tuesday.

Disney did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

The evidence is mounting that "New Mutants" might never make it to theaters, which means it could head straight to streaming. In Disney's case, it has two options: Hulu and Disney Plus, which launches in November.

READ MORE: 'Dark Phoenix' was a major flop and hurt Disney at the box office, but the 'X-Men' franchise should bounce back under Marvel

"A global theatrical release requires a monumental commitment of resources - time, energy, money - that in the case of any potential hit movie is worth the investment to get a film the exposure, prestige, and event status that the multiplex provides," Paul Dergarabedian, the Comscore senior media analyst, told Business Insider. "However, certain films may be candidates for a transfer to the unlimited bandwidth world of streaming which will still afford the movie exposure to a mass audience without the expense of a global theatrical rollout."

"New Mutants," a horror twist on superhero movies from director Josh Boone, has been delayed three times. It was originally set to debut in April 2018, then was pushed back to February 2019 and again to August due to significant reshoots. After the Disney-Fox merger, it was rescheduled for April 2020. The first trailer debuted nearly two years ago in October 2017.

Delays don't necessarily spell doom for a movie, but rarely does one get postponed three times and live to tell about it. The Hollywood Reporter reported in March that the expected reshoots had yet to be completed, and that the movie appeared to be in limbo, raising questions about its status.

But Disney can afford to be flexible and perhaps shift the movie to one of its streaming services, according to Dergarabedian.

"This is exactly the kind of flexibility that having a streaming service can give a studio," he added. "In other words, the ability to move the chess pieces of content between the big screen and your very own small screen platform offers a level of flexibility that may become a major part of release strategies in the years to come."

Unless reshoots drastically alter the movie, it might be too mature for Disney Plus, which is expected to be family friendly.

That leaves Hulu, which is betting big on Marvel content that's not associated with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios is developing original TV shows for Disney Plus that will spin out of the MCU, so Disney may want to avoid the overlap. That could make Hulu a potentially ideal home for "New Mutants."

"Ultimately, now that the Fox deal is complete, there's a general understanding - or outright expectation - among fans that X-Men will no longer be separate from the MCU," Shawn Robbins, the Boxoffice.com senior analyst, said. "To release any film that doesn't fit that outlook going forward, especially in the wake of 'Dark Phoenix's' underperformance, might only serve to muddy the franchise waters more than necessary."

Disney wants to avoid another box-office "X-Men" disaster like "Dark Phoenix," the final movie in Fox's main "X-Men" series that bombed in June. The movie was made for $200 million (not counting marketing costs) and grossed $252 million worldwide, only $65 million of which came from the US.

Disney said that Fox's film business suffered a $170 million quarterly operating loss during the company's third quarter earnings report last week, the first full quarter since the merger was finalized in March. Disney blamed the loss primarily on the box-office failure of "Dark Phoenix," but other Fox releases have also crashed and burned this year.

If you have a tip about "New Mutants" or anything else, contact the author at tclark@businessinsider.com
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