The New Mutants has managed yet again to find a new lease on life for a theatrical release after its most recent setback, which saw the X-Men spinoff movie pulled from its previous April 2020 release (alongside other Disney tentpole offerings,) due to coronavirus concerns.
Disney, the inheritor studio of the 20th Century Fox-produced movie, has announced that The New Mutants is now scheduled to hit theaters on August 28, 2020. The new date might make for a bit of déjà vu, seeing as the 2017-shot film was, at one point, scheduled to hit theaters on August 2, 2019, a date that was the result of a major dilatory shift from its original April 13, 2018 release date. Indeed, fewer films have had a rougher road than this one in terms of delivery, and, given the history, moviegoers might still be reluctant to believe the new date is set in stone.
On another note, the announced theatrical release date of The New Mutants will likely come across as surprising to those who thought that the film was destined to end up as a streaming exclusive, presumably on Disney+, which would have mercifully ended the film’s Pyrrhic path to the big screen. This method would have especially made sense with several other major releases (some of which were, frankly, more important than this one), forgoing theaters—shuttered in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic—in lieu of a new VOD/streaming model. Such a strategy would have also yielded the benefit of erasing any perceived stigma that would normally be attached to a straight-to-streaming stratagem after being sized up for theaters.
However, release date delays weren’t the only thing that The New Mutants endured over these past few years, which also saw highly-publicized behind-the-scenes woes caused by (eventually debunked) reports of reshoots. Yet, the elephant in the room when it comes to this film is that it hails from a movie continuity rendered outmoded in the wake of Disney’s acquisition of Fox. The film, an adaptation of Marvel’s X-Men comic book spinoff series about an auxiliary team of young upstart mutants, is a production of 20th Century Fox’s long-running X-Men movie continuity, which, for all intents and purposes, reached its (Hugh-Jackman-less) climax with 2019’s release of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Consequently, despite an apparent genre-experimental hybrid horror approach from director/co-writer Josh Boone, The New Mutants is left to contend with the (unfortunately accurate) perception of being snake-bit as it heads to theaters against what will likely remain (even in August,) a tense pandemic climate.
Regardless, there is a glimmer of intrigue for The New Mutants, which will certainly stand out as unique amongst the crowded comic book movie genre with its apparent horror movie leanings. Plus, it will tout a momentum-riding primary cast of young actors in Anya Taylor-Joy (Glass), Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things), Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Blu Hunt (Another Life) and Henry Zaga (13 Reasons Why), with Alice Braga (Queen of the South) playing a mentor character.
The question that now remains is whether The New Mutants will actually manage to hold on to its new August release date, or if—either due to a change in strategy or developments in the pandemic—the film ultimately ends up fulfilling its perceived fate as a streaming offering.