ByRob Taylor, writer at
Rob Taylor

Two weeks on from it's release and the consensus is that The Fantastic Four is a F...L...O...P. It's not quite of the level of Heavens Gate, Ishtar or Avengers but it's been lucky to make what it has so far and the word of mouth will only get worse.

A lot of theories have been put out there, that it was deliberate on Fox's part to make an "ashcan" movie that merely kept the rights, rather than made money to Josh Trank's behaviour being the cause, with others claiming the film never stood a chance with fanboys.

The problem Four faced is neither of these and I would go so far as to say this may be the last time such a disaster occurs for any studio.

"Oh The Times They Are A Changin'"

Over the last few years it has become increasingly hard to have a blockbuster hit. The biggest movies make monster returns but generally most "big" movies have made their budgets back, if not sufficient profits to see a sequel.

6 years ago, Watchmen was released and to all intents and purposes was a flop, but at near 3 hours long and hard R rated, it was never going to make the top 10 list of all time. What got Watchmen a pass was that it was a lovingly made film and everyone involved from the studio to Zack Snyder to the cast wanted the film to work. Same for the A-Team a year later and to an extent even The Lone Ranger & Green Lantern movies, but there is a definite link that can't be denied.

Since The Dark Knight, the biggest trend has been that the biggest grossing hits have been EXCELLENT films as well as blockbusters. Why did Iron Man do so well?

Because it was a great movie in its own right, as was Avengers, Guardians, Frozen, even Iron Man 3 (put your Trevor Slattery butthurt away, it was a much better film than it's given credit for) had a lot going for it.

Where there have been disappointments at the box office, it's ALWAYS where there has been a mediocre or disappointing movie.

The Dark Knight Rises and [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) & Man of Steel are cases in point. These are movies where the studio either got too involved, the director compromised or something just didn't click.

That Marvel could get a bloody nose in 2015 with what on paper (and in trailers seemed to be) the best movie ever in Ultron was nearly inconceivable, but they did.

The two movies that have hit big this year are not so much left-field ones, but movies that have had a LOT of love, care and effort put into them. Fast 7 & Jurassic World are not the best movies ever made, but there is no way you could ever call either film lazily made or made by committee. The studios hired a director and let him make his vision without interference and look where Colin Trevorrow is now... directing the climactic Star Wars installment for his THIRD or FOURTH film!

Both terms above can definitely apply to Fantastic Four.

It's a LAZY movie not a bad one!

Fox seemed to just assume it would be good with minimal effort and by giving it to a L'enfant terrible director like Josh Trank they could deflect blame if (inevitably) it went south.

At best it's just lazy-ass business, with a mantra of "it's all revenue, but could also be a tax write off", at worst it's cynicism, "the fanboys will pay once to see it and we retain our rights, so maybe we do it again in 5 years.".

Fantastic Four was destined to fail because no-one involved at the inception stage cared enough to make a good movie first. It was about retaining rights and getting a summer movie to fill the X gap, by the time Trank signed on the die was cast.

The 2005 iteration gets A LOT of hate, but at least it came from a place of trying to make a good movie first, not a dark one or a blockbuster.

We're now seeing a lot of reboot properties starting to have serious problems and even disappear - most notably The Crow remake. Why? Could it be because people involved in the creative end are now realising this formula being used by the studios and want no part of the inevitable backlash?

"Reboot Property - Do It Cheap - Don't Care About Quality As Original Fans Will Pay At Least Once To See It..."

All this being said, Fantastic Four is still tied as most important movie of 2015 so far.


The backlash from fans, the poor box office and people staying away in their droves from the bad word of mouth mean this is the last time a lazy movie of this type and budget can really be made... EVER!

With smaller properties like Fast & Jurassic World being able to hoover up the dollars, and supposedly "high risk" properties like Deadpool being so anticipated it means no studio can get away with making even a mediocre film again.

Studio boards and Producers almost HAVE to approach each movie with the mindset of making a good film first, because if they don't then there will be almost zero return for them and this means fewer films will be green-lit to begin with.

You KNOW Star Wars is going to be well crafted and you KNOW Marvel put the effort in (Ultron being cut was a mistake, but that a full version exists shows the effort) even with lesser movies like Ant-Man.

Fox just learned in the harshest terms possible that you can't half-ass ANY movie today, much less a beloved property like Fantastic Four and expect to make money or even recoup the budget.

[The Man From U.N.C.L.E.](tag:44548) is perhaps the most recent example, rather than rebooting the series for its own merit. They have tried to duplicate the Guy Richie formula that made Sherlock Holmes successful and they're getting burned, when all it needed was a little bit more thought about what made the original series good.

The moral to the story for Hollywood is... if you're making a property movie, make it for its own sake, not to franchise build and you damn well better make it good right out the box. The fans are used to the biggest movies also being GREAT movies now - they're not gonna accept less , whatever the property is!

If they don't learn this, then studios will get burned SO badly that their existence comes into question. The days of spending $100m on a film that sucks are dead. At least Reed, Torch, Sue & Thing did something right!


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