Yesterday, we learned that 20th Century Fox had worked out a new accord with Marvel permitting the studio to ferry one of its hottest properties into the lucrative land of milk and honey that is television. Fox has announced plans to develop two shows spun off from their X-Men franchise, one about an elite organization of mega-rich mutants called Hellfire and another about David Haller, a.k.a. the son of Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Legion. A new report from Den of Geek (still awaiting confirmation from Marvel) suggests that there may be an unknown flip side to this deal that would place The Fantastic Four, one of Marvel’s most iconic properties, back in their portfolio with another big-screen project to follow.
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Before Fantastic Four opened to dismal box office and even more dismal reviews, 20th Century Fox attempted to combat the bad buzz surrounding the film by greenlighting a sequel. It was a vote of confidence – they were prepared to stick with this cast moving forward. Then everyone saw the final trainwreck and the internet proceeded to pick over the film’s fascinating corpse in a desperate attempt to figure out what happened with this production. We all assumed that announced sequel was dead and buried. We were wrong.
We already know that many things went very wrong behind the scenes of Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four. We also know that, once upon a time, the film was significantly different than the finished product. The latest “Wow, here’s how much this movie changed from conception to execution!” revelation comes from a concept artist who worked on the film. Early on, he was tasked with illustrating Doctor Doom’s castle, a location that doesn’t even exist in the final version.
When it’s all said and done, the summer of 2015 will be remembered for a few things. The way Jurassic World dominated the humanoid world; the ocean of tears that flooded theaters showing Inside Out; Straight Outta Compton topping superheroes and reboots at the August box office. What’s likely to get overlooked amidst those stories is the summer’s biggest theme, one that ran through many of the season’s biggest hits and flops: Terrible parents.
We have spent our fair share of time sifting through the ashes of the new Fantastic Four movie, desperately trying to figure out exactly what happened here. Call it a morbid fascination. Call it professional curiosity. All we know is that the finished movie is not what anyone involved set out to make. Now we have another item of interest – a glimpse at an early screenplay for the film and it couldn’t be more different than the final film.
When Fantastic Four stumbled into theaters two weekends ago, the audiences that did show up noticed that the movie in theaters was not the movie being sold in the trailers. There were a ton of scenes and elements present in the marketing that were absent from the finished film. We even catalogued them right here. The full details of what went down (and what went wrong) on this set will probably remain covered up for a while yet, but details have begun to slowly trickle out. Now we know exactly what happened to the biggest missing scene of them all. Sort of.
As of this writing, Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four has made $25.6 million. Improbably, that’s less than half of either of the previous big-budget Fantastic Four movies, which are widely disliked by comics fan and cinephiles alike. There’s a chance Trank’s FF could wind up grossing less in theaters than Blade: Trinity, or even Trank’s own surprise debut hit, Chronicle (which cost about a tenth of his follow-up). In Hollywood parlance, those are ungood numbers. In most cases, they would almost mean certain doom (har dee har har) for any chance of a sequel.
The fact that Fantastic Four had a disastrous shoot followed by laborious reshoots may be the worst kept Hollywood secret of all time. Even if director Josh Trank hadn’t publicly displayed his dissatisfaction with the finished movie, just about anyone who sat through this mess could tell something was wrong just from the finished product. They’d know if from the inconsistent pacing, the main characters who contribute nothing to the movie, and a climax that feels like it was cobbled together by a completely different creative team. Hell, they’d know it from Kate Mara’s terrible reshoot wig, which sticks out like, well, a bad wig.
In the tradition of ScreenCrush series like You Think You Know Movies, You Think You Know TV, and Post Credits comes a brand new YouTube series: Top Five! Each week (or so; we’ve got a lot of other stuff going on), ScreenCrush editor and critic Matt Singer will count down a particular topic from the world of movies (and probably write these introductory posts in the third person).
Imagine the most inhospitable landscape in the entire universe. A desolate place of horror, pain, and misery. This is Planet Zero.