It doesn’t rain, but it pours. Those six words might describe the reaction to Fantastic Four, which opened in theaters over a week ago to a resounding thud on the three fronts that matter: the box office, the critics and with comic book fans. It begs a few questions about the shoot, the strategy of Twentieth Century Fox in making the film, and why it seems that no one can make even a halfway decent Fantastic Four movie. To answer some of those questions, a major Hollywood trade publication talked to sources close to the production to find out where it went off the rails. Some of what it revealed may be surprising…
According to the Hollywood Reporter, if the production wasn’t doomed from the word go, then it was damn close. You can read the article for details, but looking at the situation in point form:
– First of all, the reports of director Josh Trank trashing a rented house while shooting Fantastic Four in Baton Rouge is true. About $100,000 in damage was done, and when the landlord tried to evict Trank, he defaced several family photos in the house. The landlord, Martin Padial, went the sheriff’s department, who told THR that the subject is “closed as a civil matter between landlord and tenant.”
– One source did not speak well of Trank’s on-set behaviour. “He holed up in a tent and cut himself off from everybody,” the anonymous source said. “He built a black tent around his monitor,” added another crewmember. “He was extremely withdrawn,” and between scenes, “he would go to his trailer and he wouldn’t interact with anybody.”
– When Trank was communicating on set, his direction was extremely controlling. “During takes, he would be telling [castmembers] when to blink and when to breathe,” one person said. “He kept pushing them to make the performance as flat as possible.”
– Fox itself? Not blameless says those in the know. According to one source, Fantastic Four was “ill-conceived, made for the wrong reasons and there was no vision behind the property.” Fox executives were “afraid of losing the rights so they pressed forward and didn’t surround [Trank] with help or fire him. They buried their heads in the sand.”
-As for the desperate tone of the movie, blame extensive and chaotic re-shoots that involved Trank being “neutralized by a committee,” while a “dream team” of creators, including fustercluck veteran Drew Goddard (World War Z), had to come up with an ending for the film. Simon Kinberg, who was already being stretched by his Star Wars and X-Men commitments, was also heavily involved as producer in an attempt to salvage the film.
Earlier this week, Fox re-affirmed it’s commitment to making a Fantastic Four sequel, but with these comments clearly painting a picture of Trank being cast off on an ice float by the studio, Fox is going to have to scare up an entirely new filmmaking team from scratch with just 21 months before the sequel is currently scheduled to be in theaters. Is that enough time to right the ship? Time will tell.
Fantastic Four is now in theaters everywhere.