The future of Fantastic Four isn’t looking too bright. As you probably know by now, Fox’s latest reboot of the Marvel comic tanked at the box office this past weekend, earning one of the worst debuts for a big-budget superhero flick in years. Unsurprisingly, the film’s hugely disappointing performance has left audiences and critics alike questioning the future of the franchise, particularly the sequel already scheduled for 2017.
The Fantastic Four reboot has been plagued with bad buzz and rumors of production problems for months prior to its release. Despite that, the movie was predicted to bring in about $45 million domestically during its opening weekend. Instead, it grossed an estimated $26.2 million in its stateside debut, failing to bump the week-old Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation from its top spot at the box office. That makes F4 the first Marvel comic book movie since 2011 not to open at number one, as well as one of the lowest openings of all time for a studio superhero blockbuster.
Unfortunately for Fox, the movie didn’t fare that much better overseas, where Hollywood tentpoles often try to make up lost ground. Fantastic Four launched to a lukewarm $34.1 million in 43 markets, bringing its global total to a measly $60.3 million. Considering the movie cost a reported $122 million to make (not including marketing), it’s no wonder that the film is being considered a full-fledged flop.
So where exactly did this reboot go so wrong? Some are blaming director Josh Trank, who reportedly displayed unusual behavior on set. Meanwhile, others believe the studio is at fault for taking the film out of Trank’s hands and insisting on reshooting the ending – one that, according to both audiences and critics, doesn’t help the story any.
The final cut earned scathing reviews, scoring a pitiful 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences seemed to agree with critics, giving the movie a C- Cinemascore – the worst grade for a marquee superhero title by a major Hollywood studio ever. (Even duds like Catwoman and Daredevil earned a B, as did both of the previous Fantastic Four movies).
The awful reception led Trank to defend himself on Twitter, claiming that there was a better version of the movie, matching his initial vision, that we’ll never see. Though the tweet has since been deleted, it seems to confirm that clashes between the director and Fox hurt the project. Now the question is, will the studio continue with their plans for the franchise?
According to Fox Domestic Distribution Chief Chris Aronson, the answer is yes. Though he wouldn’t comment specifically on the status of planned Fantastic Four 2, he did suggest that the series wasn’t completely doomed. “While we’re disappointed, we remain committed to these characters and we have a lot to look forward to in our Marvel universe,” Aronson told The Hollywood Reporter.
What direction the franchise will take remains to be seen. There’s been speculation that Fox is planning a crossover between Fantastic Four and it’s X-Men series, which could help revitalize interest. The studio could also let the rights to the comic fall back to Marvel Studios, although Aronson’s comments seems to imply it wants to keep Fantastic Four in its catalogue. Either way, it’s clear the studio will need to drastically rethink its approach if it plans on bringing Marvel’s first family back to the big screen.