The new Fantastic Four movie hits theaters this August, and while many fans were skeptical, the recent trailer is definitely turning heads. However, this reboot of the franchise from 2005 is still being judged by many on the first two films, and now it seems that Fox has taken drastic action to try and prevent this happening.
Earlier this week, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Fox has pulled both the 2005 Fantastic Four and the 2007 follow-up, Rise of the Silver Surfer, from digital platforms. The films are no longer available on iTunes or Amazon (nor are they on Netflix, although you can apparently still rent the DVD from the streaming company in the US).
It's clear that this is an attempt by the studio to prevent movie-goers from watching the originals ahead of the latest release - an incredibly common practice, and for many, a way to get even more excited about a new film. We haven't been given an official reason for this decision, but there are a few possibilities.
There have been a whole slew of major changes made to the characters and style of the franchise with this new release, and it's easy to see why the studio would prefer that new fans come into the film expectation-free. Ten years ago, comic book and superhero films just didn't pull in the huge audiences that they do now, so there is a decent chunk of the current fanbase who may not have watched Fantastic Four or Rise Of The Silver Surfer. For those fans, seeing the old movies could create some false ideas and expectations, prejudicing them against the new release.
Those more cynical about the original movies may also think that it's not just about creating expectations that won't match with this latest offering - it's about hiding quite how bad the films were. While they definitely have their fans, they also have a lot of critics, and the majority of film lovers tend to consign the Fantastic Four franchise to the "meh" pile. When someone is considering seeing the new film, it's probably not in the studios best interest to have them watching the old ones - wouldn't want potential fans to think that this was FF:3 rather than a reboot, and give it a miss!
This could also be a move designed solely to show that this new Fantastic Four is something completely separate, totally different. Fox is making a point with this decision - although you would think that point would have been made fairly clearly with all new actors, The huge change to Human Torch, and the other major relationship changes. Then again, perhaps this is a point that is worth making as loud and clear as possible.
This adds up with the source for THR, who claims that the decision was made to "avoid confusion" and "so as not to distract from promotion".
The original films will undoubtedly re-appear after the release of the new movie, and in the meantime, you can still buy or rent a DVD copy if you have the desperate urge to watch them in the next two months.
Fantastic Four is out in theaters August 7th