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Rumor of the day: New Mutants reshoots aimed at bringing back the horror

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Dec 21, 2018, 9:00 PM EST (Updated)

With up to 50 percent of New Mutants allegedly being reshot, how exactly will the film change? According to a new report, the additional work may well bring it closer to the director's original intent.

A lengthy analysis at The Tracking Board, obtained through anonymous sources, suggests that director and co-writer Josh Boone (working with screenwriter partner Knate Lee) set out to make a straight horror movie with New Mutants -- but that 20th Century Fox was initially resistant to the idea.

The studio, instead, wanted a sort of scary Y/A mutant movie, a "cross between Stephen King and John Hughes" that was nevertheless on solid PG-13 ground. While Boone and Lee did continue to work on the script, a half dozen new writers fed it through their scriptwriting software as well, including Scott Neustadter & Michael Weber (The Disaster Artist), Josh Zetumer (Gambit), Chad & Carey Hayes (The Conjuring), and Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). Additionally, a writers' room of six more men was also tasked with retooling the script (the report notes that, quite disturbingly, there wasn't a single woman in the bunch).

So what happened then? Well, filming began on a movie that was described as more like The Shining but set in a "Breakfast Club-like setting," and with less emphasis on blood and violence. And then in September 2017, Stephen King's It debuted at the box office with an R rating and went on to make $123 million in its record-breaking first weekend, on its way to an astonishing $700 million worldwide gross.

By this time, according to the report, Fox had already held a test screening of New Mutants that went well and it was actually determined that only three days' worth of reshoots were necessary to tweak the ending. But the massive success of It -- a full-on horror movie starring kids -- changed the landscape. Fox immediately cut a trailer that positioned New Mutants as horror, while studio execs mandated that instead of three days of slight revisions, New Mutants would undergo extensive revamping to, ironically, turn it back into the genre outing that Boone first envisioned.

The report is careful to emphasize that there was nothing inherently wrong with the version of New Mutants that Boone first shot; in fact, its test scores supposedly rivaled those of the first Deadpool. But in classic Hollywood fashion, one studio saw the success of another and wanted the same exact thing.

Boone is still working on the project -- the report also makes it clear that Fox was happy with his work and that this is not a Josh Trank/Fantastic Four scenario -- and will add more horror to the movie's first half, while the back end of the film will remain mostly unchanged. Although it was reported at first that Boone was not pleased about the reshoots, he might end up getting more of the movie he started out to make.

One other additional item has surfaced: Although New Mutants was at first going to feature the Essex Corporation (which was teased at the end of X-Men Apocalypse) and introduce Jon Hamm as Mister Sinister in a post-credits cameo, that has all been jettisoned, and Antonio Banderas has instead been cast as a yet-to-be-named new villain. It's not clear if the Banderas character is one of the two allegedly set to be added in the new material.

Keep in mind that all this comes from unnamed sources and that neither Fox nor Boone has said anything publicly about the movie yet, with the exception of Fox shifting its release date all the way to August 2019. Will all this alleged studio indecision and tinkering ultimately sink the movie or make it a better product? That remains to be seen. Another X-factor (pardon the pun) is whether the Disney/Fox merger, should it go through, affects what ultimately happens to New Mutants. It's going to be a long 16 months until we find out.