Tim Story On ‘Think Like A Man Too’ and His Thoughts On the ‘Fantastic Four’ Reboot
Tim Story admits that he wishes he could have directed his ‘Fantastic Four’ movies in today’s superhero movie climate. Story is quick to point at more complicated villains like Ultron and Thanos and Apocalypse; their cinematic versions all being (we assume) carefully crafted for today’s audience. This is opposed to his version of Galactus in ‘Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,’ in which one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe is reduced to being a large space cloud — something Story explains was dipping a toe into the waters of that character, instead of going all in like he’d be able to do today. Story also discusses his thoughts on the upcoming Josh Trank reboot of ‘Fantastic Four,’ a movie that, if anything, makes Story feel “old.”
Anyway, let’s not feel too bad for Story, who’s poised to have the number one movie at this weekend’s box office, ‘Think Like A Man Too.’
What Story has done in recent years with his ‘Think Like a Man’ movies is tap into a market that is kind of surprisingly underrepresented today: the romantic comedy. His first ‘Think LIke a Man’ movie (made on a budget of $12 million) grossed over $91 million domestically. The second movie, led by the ever-increasing star power of Kevin Hart, finds the group from the original film in a Las Vegas setting and, as mentioned, is projected to finish at the top of the box office — a projection that makes Story a bit nervous.
The projections say you’re poised to be the number one movie this weekend.
You know, look, fingers crossed. We’d love for people to make it so, put it that way.
Do you like hearing that, or does that make you nervous?
Oh, it freaking makes me nervous. You will not get the brave bravado from this guy. It’s always nerve-wracking, it continues to be, you’d think I’d get better at it and you don’t know until you know.
It’s better than the opposite report, right?
Absolutely. It’s better than the opposite. You’d rather hear good numbers. You’d rather hear, “Hey, you have a chance at being number one.” There’s all that because then you hope they’ll let you keep making movies. So, I’m not arguing. I like to say that I’m bitching with a whisper.
You’re one of the few people making romantic comedies today. With the projected numbers, obviously people still like them. Why is there a dearth?
The formula has gotten so “I can see it coming,” that it’s not interesting anymore.
Meet-cute has been played out.
Yeah. So, you kind of know. You have to find a way for that vehicle to at least make you feel like you’re seeing something different. And that sometimes is done with the cast and with ‘Think Like a Man,’ we showed the male’s perspective.
And ‘(500) Days of Summer’ did the same thing.
Exactly, which made that interesting. And then, on top of that, it doesn’t hurt to have somebody like a Kevin Hart in the middle of all this.
I was flipping through channels over the weekend and I saw Kevin Hart and Romany Malco in ‘The 40-Year-Old-Virgin’ together. I always forget Kevin Hart plays the rude customer.
That was ten years ago! When we were casting the both of them for the first one, it was like, oh my God, to see them on screen together again and this time to see it in a longer version of it, you just knew that was going to be interesting.
Everyone says that Hollywood no longer makes the $30 million movie anymore, is the romantic comedy one of the biggest victims of that?
They have been a victim, but I also think there’s a little bit of timing. I think when it really comes down to what the film actually is, I’m not really recreating anything. At the end of the day, it’s boy meets girl and so forth and so on. But, I think it’s the voice. That comes from the filmmaker, but it has to be matched with actors. When you think of someone like Judd Apatow, he was able to bring a different voice to the genre to make it interesting. And I just think the combination of these actors, I think we found a kind of a niche that just makes this voice telling you the story worth listening to again.
And people are in the mood for comedy sequels right now after what ’22 Jump Street’ did last weekend.
Absolutely. I think people just want to laugh … you start to see the pattern and it’s like, “There’s not a comedy this weekend, there’s not a comedy next weekend,” and you just go, “Wow, studios aren’t [making as many].” So then when you throw out certain comedies, people want to go and have a good time. Trust me, I’m kind of perplexed as well.
Studios have invested more in superhero movies lately.
I’ve done those, too!
A few weeks ago, I re-watched your ‘Fantastic Four’ and it’s surprising how different the tone is then the superhero movies being made today.
Oh, absolutely. Look, I don’t want to say only the fanboys, but I’d say the normal audience has just gotten into more serious tone. I don’t want to say “darker,” because that doesn’t seem right. But, just a little more straightforward. And I don’t know if that’s come from the videos that kids are playing now or whether it comes from what I consider to be a great medium now, television. It just has a lot of darker stuff. I don’t know where it really comes from, but the tone has gotten a lot edgier and kind of straightforward. It’s going to be interesting just to see, when you think of some of the few superhero movies that may garner a different tone, like an ‘Ant-Man’ or even with rebooting ‘Fantastic Four.’ It’s going to be interesting to see if there’s room for that. I just like laughing and when it can make you kind of smile, it just makes the characters a little more accessible. We’ll see what happens.
Is it weird for you to hear about the ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot?
Well, it’s weird. It kind of makes you feel old! It’s like, “Gosh, how old am I?” But it is the world we’re in. And it’s going to happen when I’m 80 and it will be the fifth installment of the ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot. Look, it’s what the business has become. I really enjoy the movies that are done well, so I’m definitely not going to go against any of it. What’s great about it is being a fan of movies; I’ve always been it. And it’s fun to watch these, especially when they work.
I feel the Fantastic Four isn’t the easiest of characters to bring to movie.
You know what? It is because it is tongue-in-cheek. It’s a different beast. I’m so excited to see what they do because it is a little bit of a beast. And if you get the right cast and kind of have some fun with it, and at the same time be respectful of it being action. I’m just as curious as anyone as anybody else to see what the tone is they decide to go with. I think they’ll do great; I’m a fan of everything they’re doing with it and I’m excited about it.
You did get some backlash on Galactus because he’s such a popular character, yet in ‘Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,’ he’s a big cloud.
Yeah. I must admit, I think at the time there was a little bit of a fear of going all of the way with that. Because it’s hard to completely grab the concept. You know, if you know about Galactus, you know how powerful he is and how big or small he could be. And the fact that he does travel in a spaceship and so forth and so on. That’s a very big concept to kind of digest. And I think at the time we made the movie, I think the studio also had a little fear of what that was going to be. I think to a certain degree, we shied away from it because of that. But, I think in today’s world now, especially with them looking to do things like Ultron.
Yeah! Thanos — it’s going to be the bigger it is now. Especially when you look at what Michael Bay has been able to do with the Transformers. We’re just open to it now. And that’s why the next filmmaker that brings that to screen, it should be pretty freaking incredible. It should be nuts. And I can’t wait to see that because you have to commit to it — commit 100 percent and don’t be apologetic about it. And I think that’s what Marvel is doing so well now: They’re going 100 percent for it. They don’t apologize for it — capes and color and powers! That’s what the audience wants today. Give it to them; just give it to them great and they will be rewarded — which they are.
I do agree that back then, a regular audience would be more confused by someone like Galactus, but I think that’s changed now.
Well, I think these incredible villains now, you’ve got to go there.
To be fair, Marvel is setting up Thanos with numerous movies before we get to ‘Avengers 3.’
Right! And even with the X-Men, to think that now we might see Apocalypse on the screen is like, “Oh, shit.” I’m so excited about that! And now everybody has really shown the way with the Avengers series and everything. Go there! Literally go there and you’ll be rewarded. Because I think you’ve got to go to the supervillain because I think we’ve seen where we were a couple of years ago — and then ‘The Avengers’ just kind of blew it out of the water. I think you’ve got to go there — and that’s what’s going to be the next wave of supervillains.
Based on what you’ve said, do you wish could have made your Fantastic Four movies in today’s era?
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Because the Silver Surfer, if you know his origin, it’s very alien. It’s outer space. It’s a whole other thing and, so, I don’t think at the time I was making the movie the appetite was for that. I really don’t believe I could have gone that far then. I don’t believe I could have. So, when you look at where the audiences are now, it would be fun to bring that to the screen. The excitement is so big for the filmmaker, whether it’s this group or what — to bring that to the screen, yes, to answer your question, it would have been really fun to do it in this day now. It’s just more acceptable of the supervillain because, my gosh, when you think of somebody like Galactus — that’s big. That is big. The costume is big. And you’ve got to really go for it and you can’t just put your toe in the water, you’ve got to freaking dive in.
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and GQ. He is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.