Josh Trank says it’s not his fault.
Fantastic Four is out this weekend, and the reviews have not been kind. From Variety to Comic Book Resources, most have classified this reboot as a swing and a miss. Very few reviews have been positive. But the prevailing notion is not that it’s a terrible film and everyone hates it. Rather, a lot of reviews are along the lines of “I really wanted to like it, but it’s just not fully baked yet.”
The main problems with the film, according to most reviews, have to do with plot structure and character motivation — two elements very much under the control of the director. In this case, we also know that there extensive reshoots — some say forty pages worth, which is almost half a movie — and there’s rumor that Trank was difficult on set.
This is also the rumor as to why Trank is no longer directing a Star Wars film, although he says he walked away to take a break from high profile projects.
Studio productions are always big kitchens with lots of cooks. It’s the nature of the business, and some directors don’t have the clout to get “final cut” of their movie. Even Joss Whedon had to deal with studio demands on Avengers: Age of Ultron, so it’s nothing new. As far back as 1910, when United Artists was founded, there have been people looking for ways to deal with studios.
In a (now deleted) post on Twitter, Trank implies he had a version other than what’s being released in the theaters this weekend. Although he doesn’t outright say it, it’s easy to interpret this as a dig at the studios for changing too much of his vision for the First Family of Marvel.
What’s significant is the timing. Trank posted this in the midst of tepid and negative reviews prior to the film’s official opening weekend. That, coupled with the rumors about trouble on set, the decision to forgo the 3D conversion, and the reshoots, leaves very little room to assume anyone connected with the film has very much confidence in it.
Box office predictions have Fantastic Four clocking in at about $42 million. The test will be how it does the second weekend after word-of-mouth has a chance to circulate.