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SYFY WIRE Dark Phoenix

Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg takes blame for film not connecting with audiences

By Matthew Jackson
Dark Phoenix Sophie Turner Jean Grey

No one sets out to make a movie that fails, but it happens, even sometimes when the film in question is firmly entrenched in a franchise that's been churning out box-office hits at various levels for nearly two decades. Failures happens, and this month Dark Phoenix — the last film in Fox's long-running X-Men saga that kicked off in 2000 — seems to have become one of them. Now director Simon Kinberg is speaking out about the way his movie landed, and he's taking responsibility for Dark Phoenix's burnout.

"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. So that's on me," Kinberg said in an interview with KCRW's The Business.

Dark Phoenix arrived last weekend amid lackluster reviews and underperformed at the box office. The film earned just $33 million in its opening weekend, the lowest of any X-Men film ever, and since then reports of what the film was originally supposed to be have led fans to question some of the decision-making behind it. For his part, Kinberg isn't letting it get to him, because he's still proud of the film he made.

"I loved making the movie, and I loved the people I made the movie with," he said.

Kinberg has been involved with the X-franchise ever since X-Men: The Last Stand (the first big-screen attempt at adapting Marvel Comics' "Dark Phoenix Saga"), which he co-wrote, and he's followed the franchise through highs (X-Men: First Class) and lows (X-Men: Apocalypse) ever since.

It's a bit unusual to hear from a director owning up to a film's shortcomings this soon after a box-office failure, but Kinberg's reaction to Dark Phoenix's reception seems to be a little more about the lessons he's learning from the release. In the same interview, he recalled learning from Ridley Scott (they worked on The Martian together) that G.I. Jane was Scott's favorite filmmaking experience, and not one of his other more successful films like Alien or Blade Runner, simply because he had the best experience making the film. Kinberg also took solace in an email he got from Deadpool director Tim Miller, who offered words of encouragement.

"He wrote me an email having empathy for a movie that doesn't work," said Kinberg. "[He wrote] people will come to see the movie differently, and out of the context of this particular moment, see things in it they will appreciate and that he appreciated as a fan."

Time will tell how fans will come to see Dark Phoenix after its opening weekend defeat, but for now Kinberg seems to be doing his best to appreciate the experience he had making the film.