All the signs were there. Between the negative press regarding director Josh Trank and the tight embargo on reviews, “Fantastic Four” seemed destined to be a textbook stinker. Sure there were some out there—including myself—who held out in hopes that the haters would be proven wrong, but upon its release, even I had to admit that the film was an epic fail for both Fox and viewers alike.
With its heartless tone, inconsistent style, and untapped potential, “Fantastic Four” flopped its way into theaters with a dreary $26.2 million weekend. For reference, the original 2005 version managed to garner over $56 million its opening weekend, and its sequel, “Rise of the Silver Surfer,” brought in just over $58 million. With its less-than-disappointing box office haul, “Fantastic Four” sits with the likes of “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” as one of the lowest grossing comic book movies in recent memory.
But the box office isn’t the only place the film is hurting. Reception of the film is also at an all-time low, with its Rotten Tomatoes score sitting at 9%, and its CinemaScore at a “C-.” Sure a C- doesn’t seem so bad, but when you realize that “Pixels” received a “B” for its grade, you realize that leaves the film in pretty terrible company. Yahoo! News went so far as to dub its CinemaScore as the worst ever for a studio superhero movie.
So what in the world happened to bring a film with such promising talent to such a low level? Well, rumor has it that it has almost everything to do with studio interference. According to John Campea at Collider Movie Talk, Fox had decided at the last minute to make drastic changes to the film after they’d already begun shooting.
“Days before production began, Fox came in and made him pull three main action sequences out of the film. I was also told that the ending of the film was not even Josh Trank’s… that at some point they hijacked the editing bay from him to the point where the edit of the film was done without him…
Yesterday both Kristian [Harloff] and I spoke with another source – this is a second source – that confirmed everything we had heard from my first source… that [Fox] had essentially put out a film that was not the film that they had originally sat down to make…
I made some calls to some friends of mine - filmmakers - who had done business with Fox, and I just ran some of the facts by them that I had been hearing and said, ‘Does this sound consistent with your experience with Fox?’ And they said, ‘You have no idea.’ And then they proceeded to tell me a lot more stuff... I feel confident enough that I’ve heard this from enough places – enough reputable places – to tell you this: the film that we saw, in Fantastic Four, was not the film they were supposed to make. It was not the film that Josh Trank made.”
So what does all this mean regarding Josh Trank’s supposedly unprofessional behavior on the set of the film? Is it possible the young director grew so fed up with the studio interference that he stopped caring altogether? While that’s a possibility, we still have to keep in mind that a lot of those are rumors, and there is no real confirmation of many of these claims. All the same, it would make a lot of sense. There is a definite feeling that the hand that was directing the film switched at some point during the runtime, and the fact that there is an extensive set of B-roll footage for scenes (including one with the unused Fantasti-Car!)that never made it to the big screen is evidence of some heavy duty tampering.
Not saying Trank’s film would’ve been better, but at this point, it’s hard to claim this is the movie he set out to make. If nothing else, based on Trank’s reaction on Twitter, he’s anything but proud of the product he’s churned out.
Unfortunately, the reality is that we'll likely never get the complete picture. There's too much finger-pointing and "he said, she said" to be fully confident in what actually happened. All the same, what do you think? Have you had a chance to check out the flick, and if so, what did you make of it? Is it truly as bad as you thought it'd be, and if so, where would you attribute the movie's issues?
Let us know your thoughts down below!