“X Men: First Class” Is on its Way Out
Universal Studios trademarked its Universal Studios Film label in 1937, establishing the beginning of the movie industry in the United States. The name had been inspired by the Universal Studios Theme Park. Universal Studios was one of the first film production companies established in the United States. As a major player in both the motion picture and television industry, Universal Studios earned itself a reputation for bold, pioneering, and innovative artistic thinking, as well as an exemplary history.
Original Signatures: On April 13th, 2021, Universal Studios announced that they have issued a cease and desist order to German motion picture production house, Universal Pictures and signed one million and one-year exclusive master distribution agreement with the German producer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Universal Pictures and Dietrich Bonhoeffer have entered into an agreement to terminate all current projects, including, but not limited to, “X Men,” “X Men Origins: Wolverine” and “The Fantastic Four.” The agreement does not affect “X Men: First Class,” “The Hulk” or “X Men: Days of Future Past.” Universal also issued a similar statement on May 4th, 2021, regarding “Fantastic Four.” “Fantastic Four” creator/writer Simon Kinberg is in talks with Universal Studios about producing an untitled animated feature based around the “Fantastic Four” characters. No further details have been released.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, director and co-writer of the “Fantastic Four” trilogy has issued a statement regarding the dispute between himself and Universal Pictures. He has declined to comment at this time. Universal has yet to issue any public reaction. In correspondence with Bonhoeffer, Universal Studios Home Entertainment General Manager Jill Abram stated that Universal “has received the completed screenplay and we are in early stages of negotiations with the director.” She went on to state that the studio is “reviewing [the] movie script with the filmmakers, [kerswarm on] using the characters from the novel and, if [they are not] willing to do that, [are making no attempt to use them in the film.] Universal also has no plans to release “X Men: First Class” in summer 2021.
In August of 2021, the producers of “X Men: First Class” met with Universal Studios President Chris Barber and had an initial meeting to discuss an exit from the production of “X Men: First Class” at the earliest possible date. Barber informed the producers that despite the writers’ desire to complete the film, the studio was having difficulty in getting the film into profit shape. In their discussions, Barber and Dietrich Kuehnle indicated that they would like to have two movies released – a $40 million film starring Michael Douglas and Stallone and a separate smaller “first class” film with less star power. The only problem was that Universal did not have the rights to screen “X Men: First Class” for this type of release and it was highly unlikely that the studio would agree to such a plan.
It should be noted that while negotiations were in progress, Greg Berlanti and Kevin Dunn were negotiating a deal to renew the two-year deal for “X Men: First Class.” They expected a deal for three years and the producers for their part assumed that a deal would be signed before the UFA expired. Universal however, did not sign the renewal deal that left the door wide open for UFA to return at any time. Berlanti subsequently decided to get into discussions with Fox about a multi-platform release of “X Men: First Class.”
With the release of “X Men: First Class,” which grossed a record-breaking five hundred and seventy-two million dollars, the question of whether or not the Universal Studios Franchise would remain open for another three years came into question. The answer ultimately was “No.” There was a reported offer from Universal to produce a spin-off film starring Hugh Jackman and Michael Douglas as the new “X Men” characters, but this too was turned down by Universal. As it stands now, the only way that the franchise will be able to continue is if someone decides to bring “X Men: First Class” into the marketplace on a one year basis or if a movie is produced and released theatrically around the four seasons. If this happens, the future of “X Men” looks very bright indeed.