Last year, rumors ran around that Fox was looking at taking their X-Men franchise to television. A lot of different variations were making the rounds. Some said that the theatrical franchise would end after the next four films (Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse, Gambit, The Wolverine 2). Some said that the films would continue, but we’d be getting a “New Mutants” series to compliment them. Others said it would be an “X-Factor” series. Ultimately, the project cooled as the studio focused on their current batch of films and the subject was tabled.
Well, it’s back on now, according to comments made to THR by Fox TV CEO Dana Walden…
“[For] X-Men, we’re in negotiations with Marvel. We’re hopeful we’ll be able to announce something soon. We’re not closed on a deal yet but it’s something we’re definitely pursuing. The characters from the X-Men franchise are with Fox on the feature side so we won’t be including Marvel characters that are at ABC with Disney. This will be exclusively the franchise as it has existed at Fox.”
What does it mean that they are negotiating with Marvel? Doesn’t Fox own the X-Men/mutant rights outright for the time being? Yes and no. Fox can do whatever they want with the film rights and they will retain them forever, so long as they have a new film in production at least every seven years. TV rights are a part of what Fox owns as well, provided that any potential series be a live action one. All animated rights to all Marvel characters lie with Marvel Studios.
So what is there to negotiate? Not much. Fox has the right to create as many live action shows from their X-Men property rights as they see fit. The only difference between the films and television is that Marvel will get a monetary kickback on the later. The percentage Fox will need to dish out to Marvel Studios was apparently set in stone decades ago, so there’s no real worry about months (or even years) of hardball on that end.
Marvel Studios also carry no veto rights whatsoever on any proposed Fox TV series. That said, paperwork does need filed, with everything signed, sealed, and delivered between both companies before such a show can begin casting and eventually shoot. That is what Fox is waiting on at the moment, although it isn’t stopping them from making some headway on the potential series.
“24” producers Manny Coto & Evan Katz have been developing this prospective series for Fox for awhile now and recently Patrick McKay & J.D. Payne were hired to pen a pilot episode. There’s no timeline in place for when this show might arrive or what exactly it will be. Again, more official movement on the series cannot really begin until all of the boxes on the legal checklist have been ticked.
We have no insight at this time as to what this show could be, but if I were running things, I’d make it an “X-Factor” show. A government-funded mutant team of agents with special training and skills traversing the globe and dealing with a wide variety of threats to humans and mutants alike? If that doesn’t sound like a perfect fit for our procedural-filled television landscape, I don’t know what does.
It would basically be “Mission: Impossible” with mutants, which is an easy concept to sell and one that does require the team to tackle other super-powered beings every time out. Some fans might whine at such a thought, but it would help keep the budget down and allow the series some breathing room to cut down on repetition.
Beyond “X-Factor“, I’m not sure what else would be a good direction to take. “New Mutants” is a possibility, but I have a feeling that our first post-X-Men: Apocalypse film will bear that as a subtitle as we segue from the First Class crew to the new younger team that will debut in Apocalypse. We know that James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are already on the verge of signing another three-film deal (if they haven’t already) and word is that Nicholas Hoult will likely be sticking around as well, but the primary focus will likely be on our new Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, Nightcrawler, and Jubilee.
Gambit will, of course, stick to film, as there’s no way Channing Tatum is going to switch over to television. Deadpool will remain on the big screen as well, no matter if he gains his own solo franchise or is ultimately folded into the still-in-the-works X-Force film. So yeah, “X-Factor” is what I’d put my money on at this stage in the game. Regardless, watch this space for more information on this new expansion of Fox’s X-Universe.
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