This week, Variety took an overview of the expansion of the X-Men film franchise, noting that May’s Wolverine: Origins: Wolverine will be the first theatrical outing for Marvel’s Mutants since X-Men 3 in 2006.
As Newsarama readers know, Fox currently has three X-related films in the planning stages: X-Men: First Class, focusing on the first days of the original X-Men; Magneto, written by David (Batman Begins) Goyer, and focusing on the relationship between Magneto and Charles Xavier; and Deadpool, starring Ryan Reynolds - if the character is popular with audiences in Wolverine. The trade points out that, if Wolverine is successful, sequels with Hugh Jackman are a virtual certainty.
The trade also points out that Fox is on something of a tightrope with the planned films, balancing meeting financial expectations (the three X-Men films have brought in $1.2 billion worldwide) with trying not to produce a flop that could damage or kill the film franchise and keeping production on a realistic schedule. Given that the mutants of Marvel’s X-Men Universe are (admittedly in some cases loosely) connected, and all film projects will most likely carry the “X,” the possibility of a bad apple spoiling the bunch in the eyes of the audience.
And there is a timeline – as Variety reports, the X-Men film rights revert back to Marvel in 2012 if film projects aren’t in active development.
The risk of dropping the ball is a real one, as Fox knows super heroic failures - Daredevil and its expansion film, Elektra were largely seen as critical and commercial failures (ie – not enough heat to justify sequels), not to mention, the lackluster showing of Fantastic Four 2 has apparently cooled interest in a Silver Surfer spinoff as well as a Fantastic Four 3. As Variety reports though, Fox is considering a relaunch of the Daredevil film franchise.
So what’s your advice to Fox executives? How would you expand the X-Men film franchise?