The Director of Dark Phoenix Blames Himself for the Film Bombing — Simon Kinberg Interview

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The Director of Dark Phoenix Blames Himself for the Film Bombing — Simon Kinberg Interview

The X-Men films have always held an uneasy position as both the originators of the modern superhero blockbuster and one of Marvel’s weakest franchises. The original 2000 film and its sequel, X-2, were great for their time, if a little shaky upon rewatching. But the intervening 19 years have seen 10 other movies released, ranging from the the terrible (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) to the near-perfect (Logan). A series that came in with a bang seems to be going out with a whimper—last weekend’s Dark Phoenix was a critical and commercial bomb. And given the fact that 20th Century Fox’s final X-Men movie, The New Mutants, had its release date pushed back a full two years, expectations aren’t high for that film, either.

But Dark Phoenix’s writer and director Simon Kinberg gave a frank interview in which he squarely placed the blame for the film’s failure on himself. “It clearly is a movie that didn’t connect with audiences that didn’t see it, it didn’t connect enough with audiences that did see it,” he said on KCRW’s The Business podcast, “so that’s on me.”

“I don’t think there was a singular mistake,” he continued. “I think the combination or pile-up of challenges that this movie went through led to a really disappointing weekend.”

Though Kinberg has worked as a writer and producer on films like Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix marked his directorial debut, and the interview is an refreshingly frank discussion with someone still reckoning with a recent professional failure. Dark Phoenix had the worst opening weekend of any of the X-Men film, and is expected to lose its studio more than $100 million.

Gabrielle Bruney is a writer and editor for Esquire, where she focuses on politics and culture.

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