Monday, August 10, 2015

A Reel Opinion: Why FANTASTIC FOUR Flopped

This past weekend, 20th Century Fox’s latest version of one of Marvel Comics’ oldest properties, FANTASTIC FOUR, arrived in theatres with a fantastic thud. The film opened in second place with $26.2 million domestically (on a $120 million budget), which was far beyond expectations for a summer-blockbuster superhero film. Worse, FANTASTIC FOUR has been met with disastrous reviews; review-aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that the film has a measly 8% approval rating which is one of the lowest of the year. The reasons why FANTASTIC FOUR, a classic superhero team, would flop so hard are many, and should serve as a lesson to any studio  trying to be super. 


-It arrived too Soon: This version of FANTASTIC FOUR was a reboot of the property with a brand new cast and storyline. Fox’s first official run at it was in 2005, where it was met with mixed reviews but was still a commercial success. The 2007 sequel, sub-titled RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER, didn’t fare much better, or worse. With a need to get a new film out the door or risk losing the rights back to Marvel, Fox went ahead with a new cast “only” eight years after the last film. With fans and general audiences less than thrilled with the original films, and now being asked to sit through another origin story, the odds were against them before filming even began. 

-Ho-hum Casting: When casting for a superhero movie, studios can either go for the biggest names they can find (also called stunt-casting), or they can take a gamble with unknowns. The 2005 film was somewhere in the middle with a lean towards a gamble, with Jessica Alba being the biggest name attached. The rest of the cast comprised of a young Chris Evans (with CAPTAIN AMERICA still in his future), and TV-stars Michael Chiklis and Julian McMahon. This flopping 2015 version also went with a gamble; Miles Teller had received acclaim from last year’s Oscar-darling WHIPLASH, but still can’t be considered a box-office draw. The same can be said for actors Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan, and Kate Mara; all fine actors but not the type of faces that people line up to see. Fans of the original comic were also not pleased to see actors so young in the roles. As far as casting goes, if you can’t win over the general public or the entrenched fans, you are setting yourself up for trouble. 

-Bad Buzz: As if the uninspired cast wasn’t enough, stories of turmoil behind the scenes during production did not paint this FANTASTIC FOUR in the best light. Director Josh Trank accused 20th Century Fox of meddling with his vision and butchering the final cut, while Fox accused Trank of erratic behavior on the set (Trank was later dismissed from a STAR WARS standalone film for the same reason). Whatever the truth is, it really doesn’t matter as both studio and director were clearly never on the same planet during production, but the bottom line is no one is going to pay to see a movie with that much bad press surrounding it. 

-The Movie Sucks: Once the embargo was lifted and the press was able to publish their reviews of the film, the final nail in the coffin had been driven for any person who was on-the-fence on making a trip to the theatre. As stated, reviews were bad. The stories of trouble behind the scenes seemed to have plenty of truth, as the final version of the film felt incomplete and sloppy, not to mention very dull and un-inspired. Bad movies rarely do well. 


So what’s next for FANTASTIC FOUR? Hopefully, nothing. This Blogger believes that not all comic properties lend themselves to film, and FANTASTIC FOUR has had more than its fair share of chances. Even if the rights to the property went back to Marvel, another film version would likely suffer from association from the previous attempts. Let this one go, and let it serve as a cautionary tale to all studios who try too hard to be super. 


Read Real Speak’s review of FANTASTIC FOUR HERE

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