Wednesday, June 01, 2016
Why Disney Is Trying to Tank X-Men Apocalypse (A Conspiracy Theory)
Pictured above: Disney
So last night I went to see X-Men Apocalypse. I generally think that Bryan Singer's X-Men films are pretty great, so I was surprised to see plenty of negative advance reviews for Apocalypse, as well as a general sense of negativity in the press. In the weeks leading up to the film's release, the newsfeed under my e-mail seemed to have a negative story on Apocalypse daily. As all of Singer's previous X-Men films have received strong reviews, this seemed quite strange to me. Still, I have seen every X-Men film in theaters, even the mostly bad non-Singer ones, and I decided I wasn't going to sit this one out.
Within the first few minutes of Apocalypse, I found that I was enjoying the film just as much as the other Singer X-Men films. Halfway through, I wondered what all the negative talk was about, and found myself waiting for the film to get bad. By the end, I was grinning, and most of the nearly sold out audience I attended the film with was applauding.
So what gives? Why does this film have a negative aggregation of reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (under 50% of reviews reported as positive), when Captain America: Civil War is at 90% positive?
I've seen Civil War. It is a mess. I don't think it is a bad movie, but the conflict between its two main characters feels forced and unbelievable, the film suffers from a glut of characters that renders its titular protagonist a bystander, and its climax finds Captain America acting wildly out of character (I am referencing an unnecessary and cruel lie that Captain America tells a friend when it is quite clear that such a lie is no longer necessary).
I can see someone objectively enjoying Civil War more than Apocalypse, but 42% more? That's ridiculous. The Cinemascore's for Civil War and Apocalypse are, respectively, A and A-. Cinemascore measures audience reaction to films. It can turn in some head-scratching results at times (the new Alice in Wonderland also has an A-), but it is generally the best unbiased indicator of a film audience's opinion of a particular film's quality.
It is clear that audiences' opinion of Apocalypse far differs from that of the film's early press. Why?
Disney owns Marvel Entertainment, but they don't yet own the film rights to all of Marvel's properties. The most lucrative Marvel franchise Disney lacks the rights to is X-Men. The film rights for X-Men are owned by 20th Century Fox. Every cent that an X-Men film earns is a cent that Disney doesn't get. Disney likes to get cents. They have everything to earn by Fox's X-Men films tanking. Not only does this give more box office priority to Disney's films, but it brings Fox this much closer to selling the film rights to X-Men. And who is waiting there to scoop them up?
That's right. Disney paid to have negative stories and negative early reviews for X-Men Apocalypse planted in the media. Later reviews will generally follow the thread of previous ones. Before you know it, X-Men: Apocalypse, a comic book film just as good as all the recent Disney-produced comic book films that have received positive reviews, is sitting at 48% on Rotten Tomatoes, and "only" making $80 million over the holiday weekend.
Disney is one step closer to taking over the world.