‘New Mutants’ producer says movie will be scary good

Actress Maisie Williams, one of the stars of “The New Mutants,” which just wrapped principal photography in Massachusetts.
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Actress Maisie Williams, one of the stars of “The New Mutants,” which just wrapped principal photography in Massachusetts.

Principal photography wrapped last week on “The New Mutants,” a much-anticipated spinoff from Fox’s juggernaut “X-Men” franchise. The film, shot in Massachusetts over the summer, follows five young mutants exploring their abilities while trapped against their will in a secret facility.

“Stuck in Love” helmer Josh Boone directing a starry young cast led by “The Witch” actress Anya Taylor-Joy (playing Russian sorceress Magik), “Game of Thrones” actress Maisie Williams (as werewolf mutant Wolfsbane), “Stranger Things” discovery Charlie Heaton (as Cannonball), “13 Reasons Why” actor Henry Zaga (as Sunspot), and Blu Hunt of The CW’s “The Originals” (playing Mirage.)

What’s intriguing about “New Mutants” — which shot a lot of scenes at Medfield State Hospital, the same facility utilized by Martin Scorsese for “Shutter Island,” — is its tonal departure from previous entries in the “X-Men” franchise. Boone has referred to it as a horror movie, noting Maine author Stephen King and “Breakfast Club” helmer John Hughes as dueling influences on the script.


In a recent interview with Variety, 20th Century Fox chief Stacey Snider doubled down on that, mentioning “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “The Shining” in her description of the film. As cameras rolled during the 60-day summer shoot, the Globe caught up with “New Mutants” producer Karen Rosenfelt, whose credits include producing the “Twilight” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks” franchises. “New Mutants” is due in theaters next April.

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Q. What factored into the decision to shoot all of “The New Mutants” in Massachusetts?

A. The reason why Boston and Medfield worked for us was that we were looking for a location where, one, a crew was based, and, two, where we could find some space that we could inhabit as a home for our story in the film. And in Medfield, there’s an abandoned state hospital, and that . . . was a perfect location. What was helpful, too, is the idea that Massachusetts does have a tax rebate. The film industry does look for that, so it was a positive. What we really looked for [in terms of location] was: Does it fit the film we’re telling? And it did. And there was the infrastructure of a crew based here, so that made sense; we were able to employ locals to help us, as opposed to bringing everyone in.

Q. What was it like shooting in that (state hospital) facility?

A. I think the Medfield facility, when you think about psychological thriller and horror, is a character in and of itself. The way it’s being captured on film by Peter Deming, our cinematographer, in combination with the weather we’ve had, which has been interesting and varied, has added a level to the look of the film I think will entice audiences.


Q. How did this differ from past projects you’ve produced?

A. Each project is different, and you draw in experiences from past movies you’ve made to deal with any problems that come up on set. I’ve never done a film in the superhero universe, so that was a fresh element for me. For me, that was [exciting], because I am not a comic-book fanatic in any shape or form, and so this was just different for me on all levels: The do-not-discuss level, the anticipation level — I mean, I was involved with the “Twilight” franchise, but when we started that, it was just at the beginning of that overall craze. The “X-Men” craze, in contrast, has been going on for years and years.

Q. “The New Mutants” utilizes a much younger cast than past “X-Men” films. Are you excited to see audiences respond to that?

A. We think the audience will grow with this [planned] franchise, and the young actors are an expansion thereof. What you hope for is that there are people seeing it who know the New Mutants [from comics], but that also you’ll have a large segment of the audience that wasn’t as familiar but will grow familiar with the property as a result of this film.

Q. Josh Boone, of course, is known for getting great performances out of young actors, between “Stuck in Love” and “The Fault in Our Stars.”


A. Exactly. He’s a real actor’s director. And that’s so valuable on a movie like this with a young cast. He really captures the universal accessibility of youth.

Q. In terms of genre, “The New Mutants” has been described as a cross between John Hughes’s adolescent character dramas and Stephen King-style horror. Can you comment on that?

A. I always get nervous about describing movies as blends or mash-ups, because I think it’s ultimately unique. I’d rather describe it as character-based, and by the end it’s a psychological horror film in which the characters come together to team up as the New Mutants. . . . As they’ve done with “Deadpool,” “Logan,” and with “X-Men,” Fox has kept the films tonally unique, which I think is smart. It keeps things fresh.