Fantastic Four bombing at the box office and being critically panned has been the talk of the weekend, and new details have emerged that reveal the film’s studio may have more to do with it than its director Josh Trank.
Director Josh Trank has been vocal that the cut of Fantastic Four which is in theaters is not the one he wanted us to see, and as more information comes out from insiders, it shows that he may be telling the truth. He tweeted a response, but quickly deleted said tweet.
Fox, the studio behind the reboot, is known for putting its hand in the work of its films when it doesn’t think they’ll be financial successes. Normally, one would think this is a good thing, but director Josh Trank had done an excellent job with 2012’s film Chronicle, which took in $126 million on a $12 million dollar budget.
A report from EW reveals quite a few new details about what went on behind-the-scenes, and one insider reveals that Trank was difficult to work with on set.
“The rift on set was not about creative differences but rather combative and abusive behavior Trank demonstrated toward the crew, producers, studio and even the stars. It’s partly linked to Trank’s personal disputes — involving accusations of deliberate damage done to the house he was renting, as revenge over a dispute with the landlord — which sources say eventually manifested on set as hostility and frustration from Trank.”
The insider goes on, saying that the director simply broke under the pressure of a film that had a budget of $120 million, as well as the studio constantly pushing for changes.
“Some who worked on the film say Trank broke, for sure, but was driven to the breaking point by the studio, and that his clash was not with Kinberg but Fox Production President Emma Watts. According to several individuals who worked on the movie, the studio delayed casting and script approvals, slashed the budget by tens of millions from what was originally promised during the development phase, and tried to force last-minute script changes to the film just as principal photography was beginning.”
There was also a lot of difficulty agreeing on who to cast in the key roles, which led to more arguing behind-the-scenes between Trank and Fox.
“Fox executives desperately wanted to reboot Fantastic Four after the indifferently received big screen versions in 2005 and 2007, but they also bristled at many of the traditional comic book elements that defined the characters… There was uncertainty about who should star. Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm was set from the start, but the studio wanted a different actor than Miles Teller for Reed Richards. Trank won that battle, even though he later developed a mutually disdainful relationship with the actor — but Fox insisted that Kate Mara be given the role of Sue Storm, and Trank treated her badly as a result. Some say he was cruel, others say merely cold. No one says they got along.”
Another source reports that Trank, while passionate, was constantly questioning his own decisions, which compounded the fact that Fox was constantly looking over his shoulder.
“Different sources say Trank was indecisive, others say the studio was hemming and hawing on his choices. Either way, the script was not finalized until late in preproduction, and continued to change right through reshoots, which stalled crew workers who were trying to build sets, make costumes, props, and prep the movie. This created confusion and stress from the get-go that often boiled over among department heads trying to put together pieces of a movie that was still in flux.”
There were rumors from the beginning of production that Trank was struggling under the pressure, but if you’ve seen the film, you’ll notice that the director basically wasn’t involved in the final act.
Literally the last third of the film seems to be directed and edited by an entirely different group of people. One of the most bizarre things was how ridiculous Kate Mara’s wig was in the final act, due to a reported 40 page reshoot, which took place after she’d cut her hair.
Josh Trank has publicly said there was a cut of this movie he was proud of, but we wouldn’t be seeing it, which is a shame. This movie had a talented cast, with a director who had done an excellent job on his previous project, but the combination of him having too much pressure put on him and being smothered by Fox resulted in one of the worst movies in the last few years.
Fantastic Four took in an abysmal $26.2 million at the U.S. box office, which was about half of what the studio had expected (or hoped for). The sequel that is already slated for 2017 has reportedly been swapped out for a Deadpool sequel.
We can only hope that more specific details will be released in the following weeks. Even a documentary would be interesting to watch to see just how badly Fox botched this film, or if Trank was at fault.
No matter what, both parties failed to bring a good film to the theaters, but it does allow Fox to keep the characters from falling back in Marvel’s hands (sigh).