How Many Times Has ‘The New Mutants’ Been Delayed? Why It’s Not Coming to Disney+ First

It has become something of a running joke on the internet that the superhero-horror film The New Mutants will never see the light of day. Now officially owned by Disney, the movie could be a good fit for its streaming service, Disney+, but, as of early August 2020, that’s unlikely. Here’s why.

‘The New Mutants’ was first announced in 2015

Maisie Williams in New Mutants
L-R: Maisie Williams, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, Charlie Heaton and Anya Taylor-Joy in ‘The New Mutants’ | 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

The New Mutants is based on X-Men characters from Marvel comics, particularly the New Mutants series. It follows young heroes such as Rahne Sinclair / Wolfsbane (played by Game of Thrones‘ Maisie Williams) and Sam Guthrie / Cannonball (Charlie Heaton of Stranger Things fame) who are learning about their powers.

At times billed as a horror film, The New Mutants was filmed in mid-2017. A release date was initially set for April 2018 by the studio then in charge, Twentieth Century Fox. But it has undergone many changes since then, including repeated delays.

It has been delayed many times

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RELATED: Why Disney Should Just Release ‘The New Mutants’ to Hulu Now

The first time the film was delayed, it was to avoid competition with another Fox film, Deadpool 2. Its second scheduled release date was February 22, 2019. Then, yet another X-Men film, Dark Phoenix, got in the way, pushing it to August 2, 2019. There was a lot of talk about reshoots during this time.

The New Mutants was delayed even further following Disney’s acquisition of Fox in March 2019. Now, it also had to avoid Disney tentpoles. Disney also wanted to make changes to the film and pushed it back to April 3, 2020. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic got in the way, and the new release date became August 28, 2020.

‘Mulan’ will go to Disney+, but not ‘The New Mutants’

On August 3, 2020, Disney announced that one of the delayed films from early 2020, Mulan (the live-action adaptation of the 1998 animated movie of the same name), was coming to Disney+. This was a surprising move to some, who thought the company would continue to delay it until a theatrical release was possible.

Among the projects Disney did not discuss, including the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 kick off Black Widow, was The New Mutants. If any of the company’s big-budget movies would get bumped to a streaming service, it’s the long-delayed one from Fox that Disney somewhat reluctantly inherited.

Why Disney has to release it theatrically

Releasing The New Mutants as the pandemic still rages on in the U.S. may seem like a strange choice, especially since it could follow Mulan‘s model, in which Disney+ subscribers must pay an additional fee to watch. But there’s actually a legal reason why that’s not happening.

“Everyone speculating NEW MUTANTS will go to Disney+: It won’t,” wrote Atom Insider’s Alisha Gauso on Twitter. “It quite literally can’t. Remember, it’s the last holdover film from Fox prior to the merger. HBO has exclusive streaming rights for 2 years & Disney is contractually obligated to release Fox movies theatrically.”