The Business exclusive: Simon Kinberg on the dark fate of ‘Dark Phoenix’

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A big flop is painful even to the most successful filmmakers. That didn’t stop writer-producer Simon Kinberg from sharing exclusively with The Business his perspective on what went wrong with ‘Dark Phoenix.’

Kinberg has worked as a writer and producer on the X-Men movie franchise since 2006, and while he’s sometimes stepped behind the camera when things were going off the rails, ‘Dark Phoenix’ was his directorial debut. The film got panned by critics and opened to only $33 million in the U.S.--the lowest of any of the X-Men movies.

We talked to Kinberg a few days after that brutal weekend. It’s not excruciating to talk about he said, because, “I actually really like the movie, [and] I had an amazing time making the movie.”

But that doesn’t mean it was easy. Kinberg told us about the reshoots, release dates changes, and working at Fox as it was being swallowed by Disney.

Kinberg acknowledged that when a movie doesn’t work, there’s a lot of finger pointing, but said ultimately it comes down to him: “I’m here, I’m saying when a movie doesn’t work, put it on me. I’m the writer-director, the movie didn’t connect with audiences, that’s on me.”

And while it’s tempting to speculate what might have happened had ‘Dark Phoenix’ been able to stick with one of its preferred release dates or had more time in the Disney marketing machine, Kinberg is trying not to dwell on that.

“I mean honestly, there’s no way to know,” he said. “And that’s the thing that I think can drive people crazy and keep them up and be thinking about a movie’s failure years later. If the lesson you’ve learned is that you had the wrong date or you didn’t have good marketing--that’s not a lesson.”

Listen in to hear more from Kinberg, including his mixed feelings on being essentially done with the X-Men as the mutants move over to join their fellow Marvel superheroes at the house that Kevin Feige build. Plus, Kinberg shares his favorite email he’s received following the release of ‘Dark Phoenix.’




Kim Masters


Kaitlin Parker