Fox and director Simon Kinberg’s “Dark Phoenix” is simply put, a disaster, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, meddling from James Cameron may have a surprising amount to do with the Marvel sequel's troubles.

With a franchise-low opening weekend of $33 million and a putrid Rotten Tomatoes score of 23 percent, “Dark Phoenix,” the finale for Fox’s long-running “X-Men” series, is on track to be one of the biggest flops of 2019. Reports have it losing $100-120 million dollars by the end of its run. Beyond franchise-fatigue and its perceived poor quality, THR’s report indicates that Cameron’s interference with the film’s prior release date on behalf of his film, “Alita: Battle Angel,” may have had a lot to do with its box office implosion.

At the time when its first trailer was released, “Dark Phoenix” was slated for release on Valentine's Day 2019. This was a deliberate choice, releasing the film outside of the summer season, as after the poorly-received mega-spectacle of Bryan Singer’s “X-Men: Apocalypse,” Fox planned to dial back the scale of the next entry. With a quieter release date, the thinking was that even at a smaller scale the film would still stand out as a blockbuster during the off-season.

Enter Cameron. Worried that his long-planned “Alita: Battle Angel” manga adaptation would be crushed by the likes of “Aquaman,” “Bumblebee,” and “Mary Poppins Returns” on its then Dec. 21, 2018, release date, Cameron pushed for a delay. Despite protests from “X-Men” producers, then Fox chairwoman Stacey Snider obliged Cameron, giving “Alita” Valentine's Day and pushing “Dark Phoenix” to June.

At this new date, “Dark Phoenix” suffered commercially against direct blockbuster competition from “Aladdin” and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” and withered critically against comparisons from the month-old mega-hit “Avengers: Endgame.” “Alita,” meanwhile, ended up dodging predictions that it would bomb, eventually bringing in $405 million worldwide. While unlikely to produce a sequel against a $170 million budget plus marketing, it was a respectable haul which it might not have gotten in December.

James Cameron
James Cameron attends SiriusXM’s Entertainment Weekly Radio Channel Broadcasts From Comic-Con 2016 at Hard Rock Hotel San Diego on July 22, 2016, in San Diego, California. Getty Images/Vivien Killilea