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Marvel fans were elated to hear the initial plans from 20th Century Fox to develop New Mutants into a film project. In a surprising twist, the film was planned as a horror-tinged take on the X-Men series. But the planned April 2018 release has been pushed back to February 2019. While the delay is disappointing, it might actually be a very good thing for the film.

A brief history of The New Mutants: Josh Boone (The Fault In Our Stars) signed to direct the first new crack at a superhero horror film in a long time, and The New Mutants will feature Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga, and Blu Hunt in the lead roles.

Those roles are five young mutants – Magik, Wolfsbane, Cannonball, Sunspot, and Mirage – held in a secret facility against their will. While learning to control their mutant abilities, they must deal with their past while trying to fight for their future. Easy to see how the horror angle might come into play.

[Credit: 20th Century Fox]
[Credit: 20th Century Fox]

Fans were given a first look at the movie when the debut trailer arrived last October. After that, however, new details were scarce. Then earlier this month it was announced that Fox would shake up a few of their Marvel-based films. The New Mutants will now premiere February 22, 2019, delay of ten months. So why is that good?

X-Men Vs. X-Men

The New Mutants was intended to be the first of three X-Men films to premiere in 2018, with Deadpool 2 following in June and X-Men: Dark Phoenix in November. Along with the scheduling change for New MutantsDeadpool 2 moves up two weeks to premiere on May 18. It was interesting that Marvel and 20th Century Fox were set to release two movies so close together.

Many are suggesting that The New Mutants move has to do with two X-Men films competing with one another at the box office. In some parts of the world, the movies would overlap with even closer release dates. There is no doubt that both installments will be box office powerhouses but spreading them out will benefit both movies. Considering how far out Marvel plans their release dates, it seems the studio could have been planning on pushing back The New Mutants for quite some time before announcing officially.

A New Take On Horror

[Credit: 20th Century Fox]
[Credit: 20th Century Fox]

The X-Men have been the risk takers lately in terms of Marvel-branded movies. Logan and Deadpool had great success going the R-rated route. Marvel hasn’t dealt much in the world of horror (though there is Blade, a Marvel adaptation that arrived before the current superhero boom) so that offers a new path for the franchise. We don’t know the rating for The New Mutants, but signs point to PG-13. Don’t let that fool you, however. There will still be plenty of scares.

Boone recently spoke to IGN about his approach to horror in storytelling:

“90% of this movie was shot on real locations. We did as many of the effects practically as we could. It has some big visual effect stuff as well, but we really tried to do everything we could possibly do real so it would feel a little bit more like those movies we liked and were inspired by. 10% of the movie was green screen and nothing else really. We shot on in a 150 year-old mental hospital that’d been closed for 50 years.”

Those inspirations he referred to? Try One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Nightmare on Elm Street, and basically anything with Stephen King’s name attached.

Rumors have swirled that initial test screenings performed well, but there was room to make it more intense and frightening. The studio now has more opportunity for reshoots. Even small amounts of editing could noticeably change the tone of the movie. In this case, fans will be looking for a balanced mix of terror and X-Men lore.

Mutant Marketing

The most obvious reasoning for the new 2019 release date was the total lack of marketing ahead of April 2018. Sure, any kind of Marvel movie has the ability to get fans in seats just by word of mouth alone, but the promotional campaign had barely begun. The movie was set to release just three months before the change of date was officially announced. Without that news, it probably not on the mind of most fans.

Now with ample time ahead of the February 2019 date, Fox can take advantage of all types of media and events to market their new group of mutants. Time will tell if the decisions pay off.

The New Mutants hits theaters on February 22, 2019.