'X-Men' producer Lauren Shuler Donner distances herself from recent franchise flops

Hanna Flint
·Contributor
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 02:  Lauren Shuler Donner attends the "Legion" Season 2 Premiere at DGA Theater on April 2, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Greg Doherty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Lauren Shuler Donner distances herself from Dark Phoenix (Credit: Greg Doherty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

The producer of the original X-Men films has distanced herself from the latest string of franchise disappointments.

Lauren Shuler Donner helped Fox buy the rights to the franchise from Marvel Comics in 1994 and was instrumental in bringing X-Men to the screen in 2000.

Over the years she has produced various instalments of the franchise, as well as the spin-off TV shows Legion and The Gifted, but after the critical-panning of Dark Phoenix she has disavowed the latest films.

It seems people had been tweeting Shuler Donner about the new movie so she responded by posting: “Save your condolences. I had zero, nothing to do with Dark Phoenix. Or Apocalypse, or New Mutants.”

The producer didn’t leave the tweet up for long though but after deleting it, screen-caps were doing the rounds on social media.

Read more: Chaos behind-the-scenes on X-Men

Dark Phoenix suffered a disappointing box office return over the weekend, earning just $33 million (£26 million) which is the lowest opener for the franchise since 2013’s The Wolverine.

The film made $107 million (£84 million) outside the US, bumping its overall takings up to $140 million (about £110 million), but with a production budget that exceeds the $200 million mark it may mark a loss by the end of its theatrical run.

Some reports suggest the film might lose around £98 million for the studio, which was officially acquired by Disney in March.

The final movie in the X-Men saga, featuring the current creative team and cast, was pretty anticlimactic. By stripping away much of the subplots and character development of the previous films to focus on Jean Grey's transition into the title antagonist, we're left with a pretty mundane and humourless story that fizzles out by the end. (Credit: 20th Century Fox)
Dark Phoenix has suffered a disappointing opening weekend (Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige was an intern for Shuler Donner and she made him an associate producer on the first X-Men movie. He told io9 back in April that they were in no rush to reboot the franchise.

Read more: Dark Phoenix could lose a lot of money

“It’ll be a while,” Feige said. “It’s all just beginning and the five-year plan that we’ve been working on, we were working on before any of that was set.

“So really it’s much more, for us, less about specifics of when and where [the X-Men will appear] right now and more just the comfort factor and how nice it is that they’re home. That they’re all back. But it will be a very long time.”

Shuler Donner is uncertain if she will carry on as an active producer now that the franchise is under Marvel Studio’s creative control.

“I don’t know, I don’t think so, certainly in name credit, it’s up to Kevin (Feige),” she told Deadline, “I don’t know what Kevin is thinking, I think he’s still dealing with the wealth of characters and trying to make sense of it all.”

The New Mutants is the final film in this current franchise to be released though it has been constantly delayed for the last few years.

There were rumours that it would instead be released on Hulu or the new Disney+ streaming service but it has got a theatrical release date of April 3, 2020, so we’ll have to wait and see if that actually comes to fruition.

Dark Phoenix is in cinemas now.