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The latest installment of the “X-Men” series, starring “Game of Thrones” star Sophie Turner, who recently made headlines for joining the boycott of Georgia over its “heartbeat bill,” is flaming out at the box office, managing a disappointing $33 million in its opening weekend amid ice-cold reviews. In fact, “Dark Phoenix” has earned the unwelcome dual distinction as the worst reviewed film in the X-Men series and the worst-performing in its opening weekend.
Despite being released in 3,721 theaters and a massive promotional push, “Dark Phoenix” brought in only an estimated $33 million over its first three days. According to Box Office Mojo, that’s twelfth out of the twelve films in the “X-Men” franchise and $20 million less than the second-worst performing “X-Men” film, “The Wolverine.”
Part of the reason for the sub-par box office performance appears to be the critical response to the Simon Kinberg-directed film. The film currently has a dismal 23% on the Tomatometer among critics and a tepid 64% audience score. That’s the worst of any of the “X-Men” films.
“Dark Phoenix ends an era of the X-Men franchise by taking a second stab at adapting a classic comics arc — with deeply disappointing results,” reads Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ summary. A few examples of the many box office-damaging reviews:
- “It is a joyless, lifeless, boring affair that repeats ideas from better X-films and feels more like an obligatory reunion cash grab than a deeply considered goodbye to iconic characters,” writes RogerEbert.com’s Brian Tallerico.
- “Despite the frequent verbal confrontation scenes in which characters lash out at one another, soap opera style, for lying or serving their selfish interests, Dark Phoenix doesn’t come close to carrying the emotional impact of so many Marvel films…” says Chicago Sun-Times Richard Roeper.
- “It didn’t have to end this way…It didn’t have to end with so little emotion, so little meaning – with a sad little speech about evolving, for Phoenix’s sake,” laments San Diego Reader’s Matthew Likona.
- “Their performances are so cornball and their line-readings so hacky that one might be forgiven for confusing Dark Phoenix with some low-rent porno parody of itself,” writes Globe and Mail’s John Semley.
Rotten Tomatoes’ impact on the box office has become a frequent topic of conversation in recent months, particularly when it comes to politically charged content and online campaigns. After the “Want to See” score for “Captain Marvel” nose-dived following star Brie Larson repeatedly turning promotional events for the film into opportunities to push a feminist agenda, Rotten Tomatoes took steps to protect films from similar blowback. First, the site announced its decision to drop the “Want to See” score altogether and disable the comments function prior to a film’s release. The review site’s attempts to block “trolls” from tanking film’s scores added another step a few months later when it announced its revised criteria for comments with its new “Verified Ratings and Reviews” policy, which requires verification that a user actually purchased a ticket to the movie before they score it.
As The Daily Wire reported, Turner along with her “Dark Phoenix” co-star Jessica Chastain announced in a recent interview with Sky News that they both signed a letter with dozens of their fellow Hollywood stars pledging to boycott states that enact strict abortion laws, particularly Georgia, the third-largest film production state in the country.
“There’s a letter going around that I signed saying I’m not going to work in any state that denies rights for women, for the LGBTQ community, for anyone,” Chastain told the outlet. “I’m not going to work in a state that discriminates.”
“I signed it too,” Turner added. “I have yet to tell my agents I signed it. They’re going to be like: ‘What? You can’t work in these states?’ Yeah, I can’t work in these states.”
When asked about the stringent anti-abortion laws of the primary filming location of “Game of Thrones,” Northern Ireland, Turner did not try to defend her decision to film there for years, saying only, “There was a lot of work of ‘Game Of Thrones’ there, so luckily we’re moving on.”
When outrage first erupted in response to Alabama’s pro-life abortion bill, HuffPost provided a summary of Northern Ireland’s laws, which are “some of the most restrictive abortion laws of any developed nation”:
Under no circumstances except to preserve the woman’s physical and mental health are abortions legal in Northern Ireland. And while the Alabama law penalizes doctors who perform abortion, threatening them with up to 99 years or life behind bars, Northern Ireland penalizes both the doctors and the women who terminate their pregnancies. Both can face life in prison.