After scuttling the premieres of Black Widow, Mulan, and several smaller titles due to the near-shuttering of the global box office, Disney recently unveiled its new release schedule, which for the most part, looks like a return to business as usual, only five to six months later than planned.
One title, however, was noticeably missing from Disney’s new slate: The New Mutants. While films like Artemis Fowl and Onward made quick jumps to Disney+ after having their theatrical runs aborted, the long-delayed mutant horror movie had no such luck. But despite X-Men fans pleading on social media for New Mutants to drop on Disney+ (or Hulu if the content isn’t suitable for the family-friendly streaming service) there appears to be a significant snag in making that happen. That snag? HBO.
Even after the Disney merger, HBO still holds the premium TV rights to all 20th Century Fox films as it has for the past 30 years. That deal would presumably include New Mutants and also explain why X-Men: Dark Phoenix recently debuted on HBO instead of one of the Disney-controlled streaming services. HBO fully expects Disney to make a play for the Fox library, however, when the current deal expires in 2022.
“You don’t have to be a genius to assume [Disney chairman/CEO] Bob [Iger] will take those Fox movies back into the Disney company.” former HBO CEO Richard Plepler told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018. “But there are other ways to skin the movie cat, and we will.”
As for releasing New Mutants on VOD, Den of Geek reports that situation is another can of worms involving a Gordian knot of contractual obligations that require the film to be released theatrically or face a round of renegotiations with the cast and director. There’s a reason fans think the movie is cursed.
After watching its release date get routinely delayed while still at Fox, New Mutants seemingly disappeared into the ether following the Disney merger and fans gave up hope on the film ever seeing the light of day. But in a surprise announcement in 2019, director Josh Boone revealed that Disney was letting him finish the film, and it came so close to making it into theaters. Boone and star Maisie Williams even did a promotional tour, and then just a few weeks shy of its April 3 release date, coronavirus collapsed the entire film industry. And now, to pour salt in the wound, the bruised and beaten mutant movie is trapped in a complicated streaming limbo that probably won’t be resolved anytime soon. Although, you have to admit, it’s very on brand.