It’s time for one of my favorite things in this business we call show: the troubled movie post-mortem! Often, whenever there’s a high-profile film that has a messy production history, the release of said film comes accompanied by a break-down of “what went wrong.” It happened with Suicide Squad. It happened with The Mummy starring Tom Cruise. And now it’s happening with The New Mutants. The Josh Boone-directed X-Men spin-off has had its release date shuffled around more times than we can count, and as the movie finally opens in select theaters this weekend, stories are starting to flood in about what went on behind-the-scenes.
There are two big New Mutants behind-the-scenes reports to pull from at the moment. One is in Vulture, the other in EW, and they kind of contradict each other here and there. But the bottom line seems to be that the pre-Disney-owned Fox didn’t really know what to make of the film, and after the Disney purchase, no one really cared that much to deal with it.
Per the Vulture report, Fox was so disappointed with what Josh Boone had delivered that there was talk of reshooting the entire movie from scratch:
In postproduction, a studio executive noted that a total do-over would not necessarily be a financial wipeout given the film’s relatively bargain budget. “You could throw the movie out, start over, and it would still be the least expensive X-Men movie so far,” the sources recall a high-ranking Fox executive claiming.
Rumors of massive reshoots have been swirling around New Mutants for years now, although by all accounts, they never actually happened. It’s clear that someone, somewhere, wanted big reshoots. But according to Josh Boone and his cast, the film hitting theaters now is more or less Boone’s original cut. The Disney-Fox merger is likely the reason the reshoots never actually happened – after the House of Mouse purchased Fox, there was very little interest in dropping even more money on New Mutants.
The Vulture report also has some early story details, including the reveal that the original script featured X-Men member Storm, and that she acted as a “sadistic jailer” to the teen mutant characters at the center of the film. The EW report, however, contradicts this. EW got their hands on an early draft from 2015, stating that it was originally more of a direct spin-off of X-Men: Apocalypse. It was set in the 1980s, and featured “characters like Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult), and Ororo/Storm (Alexandra Shipp).” In this version of the script, Storm has a pretty big role in the story. She’s still “struggling with PTSD from her days as a Horseman of Apocalypse and the loss of her powers.” She also “stumbles upon the remains of a Native American reservation in the opening scenes and discovers Dani [a main character played by Blu Hunt in the finished film] as the only survivor, thus segueing into the main Demon Bear inspiration for the movie.”
But EW adds that “reports suggesting that the script depicted Ororo as a sadistic jailer to the five teens do not match” the early versions of the script in their possession. Instead, Storm is appointed “caretaker of a school for new mutants set up at a rundown, abandoned hospital, complete with makeshift Danger Room made from X-Men hand-me-downs.”
Somewhere along the line, however, Fox cut the budget for New Mutants in half. This budget cut lead to a script overhaul, relocating the movie “to a mysterious medical facility” and nixing many special effects sequences that would’ve been too pricey. This rewrite also removed the direct X-Men connections, with Storm being swapped out for Cecilia Reyes, a doctor character played by Alice Braga in the finished film.
As far as behind-the-scenes shenanigans go, the New Mutants story isn’t that disastrous. It just sounds like the studio more or less gave up on the film. They didn’t like the cut Boone delivered, wanted reshoots, but never got around to implementing them. And now, the flick is ready to find its way to select theaters. Boone and company had hoped this would be the start of a new trilogy, but obviously, that’s not happening. We’ll have to just make do with what we have now. And then maybe forget about it entirely.
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