Oh dear oh dear oh dear, what looked to be a really promising superhero film from the highly talented director Josh Trank (Chronicle) has turned out disastrous, on all counts.
The not so Fantastic Four had a review embargo lifted a few days ago, and critics started aggressively reviewing the film, basically calling it rubbish. Reviews have now been opened up to the public as the film hit UK and US cinemas on Thursday, and as it stands Fantastic Four has an embarrassing 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 4.1/10 on IMDB.
Shocking really, and I am baffled as the trailers really did look impressive, and on the strengths of Chronicle, I know that Trank has skills.
Seeing the early reviews, Trank took to Twitter Thursday night, and in a round about way, blamed studio interference for the film, and says that a year ago he well and truly had a fantastic version ready for fans to see. Trank’s Tweet was removed nine minutes later (no doubt due to Fox demanding it), but it can be read next:
This is all a bit of a mess really, and you have to feel it for Trank, and some of the backlash this poor guy has been getting is really crazy. Fantastic Four had been dogged in bad press from the moment it was announced, and now it seems like everyone is getting in on slating the film, and its director. I haven’t seen it yet, so can’t really comment, but the figures speak for themselves.
Variety reports that Fantastic Four opened in the US on limited Thursday night previews with just $2.7 million, and the films so-called big Friday night opening is looking disastrous. The film, which cost $120 million to make, is not looking likely to hit its predicted $40 million weekend opening in the US, and predictions are now saying the film will likely open under $30 million.
The last superhero film to open in the US under $35 million was Sony’s The Green Hornet in 2011, which opened with $33.5 million.
Max Landis, writer of Trank’s superb debut film Chronicle defended the directors claims of interference from Fox, and released this statement last night:
“HEY, it’s 1 AM. You know what, fuck it. Let’s be real here.
Chronicle was an incredibly rare and easy ride. I loved writing the script. I enjoyed our producer, John Davis, and our exec, Steve. I also loved collaborating with Josh, who I think is brilliant, and whose ideas inspired my script. I fought hard for him to direct. But Chronicle was a complete fluke. We had so much control because the movie was, in relation to other movies that year, TINY. Some holes opened up in Fox’s slate and Chronicle was cheap and unique, so they were kind enough to make it. Only took 6 months.
At the time, I was like “THIS IS FUCKING INCREDIBLE I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING.” I’d sold scripts, but it was my first greenlight. Josh, who’d been for-hire editor and whose only experience behind the camera had been a web series, was a smart, fun collaborator.
During the shooting of the film, I had almost no input, but I was lucky in that the studio and Josh stuck astonishingly tight to my script. But again, even this is a fluke. It was an original idea, a dark character movie with a first time director. Fluke. Freak of nature. But I didn’t know that and I’m sure Josh didn’t know that either. In the five years since I sold Chronicle, I’ve learned the hard way.
You take huge hits in this industry, creatively, but that’s only after you’ve been given the opportunity to take huge swings, which is rare. A movie like Fantastic Four, an assignment with a lot riding on it, was always going to have a tremendous amount of cooks in the kitchen. People always ask me when I’m gonna write a superhero movie. I have. I’ve gotten those jobs. They’re very intense and stressful.
As a writer, I’ve been lucky to work on many, many projects, and seen how different and how hard each road can be, for five and a half years. Josh didn’t get that chance, and his second major project, after one with total freedom, was one with intense oversight. So I don’t think anyone’s wrong or right, necessarily, and I don’t imagine anyone cares about my opinion. But I do think it’s important to say that if you’re not prepared going in to not FIGHT like hell, but WORK like hell, it’s gonna get ugly.
No one is trying to make a bad movie. This job is only very occasionally romantic. Don’t let it own you, try not to let it hurt you. Because sometimes it’s so much fucking fun. But it’s still a job.”
Lastly, a week ago there was talk of the X-Men movie series crossing over with the new rebooted Fantastic Four. X-Men director Bryan Singer said that the idea to use both sets of superheroes in one films was developing, and all eyes were on how well Fantastic Four performed as to whether the two franchises came together.
Turns out this will not be happening anymore, and while a statement from producers Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker claims that the issues are the different time frames of the two films (which makes senses, Fantastic Four is set in the present, and X-Men: Apocalypse in the 80’s), deep down it’s probably down to the negative reviews, and poor box office returns.
Here is the statement sent to the New York Daily News:
“They exist in parallel universes. The Fantastic 4 live in a world without mutants. And the X-Men live in a world without the Fantastic 4. Crossing them over would be challenging, but we sure would love to see all those actors together, the way we had them on stage at [San Diego] Comic Con”
So after all the negativity, if you are still interested in seeing Fantastic Four (I still am), here’s a reminder of the details, and this weeks superb trailer:
Directed by Josh Trank, Fantastic Four stars Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm, Kate Mara as Sue Storm, Miles Teller as Reed Richards and Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm.
Fantastic Four arrives in UK cinemas on 6th August.
FANTASTIC FOUR, a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.