By Danny F. Santos (doddleNEWS)
Rarely does a film spectacularly fail on so many levels quite like the Fantastic Four has. It’s been battered by critics, which Rotten Tomatoes aggregates to a 9% “rotten,” and has made a paltry $26.2 million at the box-office. To put that in context, it is the worst rated Marvel based film ever, and it made less than half of what the original 2005 Fantastic Four film made.
I imagine there are a bunch of meetings going on at Fox right now, because this movie will not have legs, and it will not make its budget back. Even worse, Fox has already announced a sequel for June 2017, which I suspect will become an open slot for something other than Fantastic Four 2.
There is a silver lining though: You can bet there are also meetings at Marvel Studios today, as well, trying to figure out how to get the rights back under their roof.
How Did Fantastic Four Get Here?
Rumors from multiple sources have painted a picture of a director and studio clashing behind the scenes, as well as a major reshoot for the climax. Based on what director Josh Trank briefly tweeted, and the strange tonal shift in the film’s final act (read my review here), I can easily believe it. That doesn’t mean Trank’s version would have been any good, but I suspect it could have been marginally better. Both studio and filmmaker are responsible for producing this film, and it seems neither could figure out how to properly crack the story.
What Now For Fox?
Fox has a big problem on their hands, since this failure may have messed up their future release schedule. The June 2017 date for a sequel to Fantastic Four is now a huge problem, since almost every X-Men property is already tied up for either a 2016 or 2017 release date. That leaves only a few options to the studio:
- Forge ahead with Fantastic Four 2. This seems like an unlikely, but not a necessarily impossible decision for Fox.
- Start fast tracking Deadpool 2. The filmmakers for the first Deadpool film already say they have some ideas for the next film, and if we’re going by the trailer’s reception at Comic-Con this year, it could be a surprise winner. It’s also the only Fox/Marvel-based production that has the window of time to produce another film.
- Shuffle a non-Marvel film into this date. I have no idea what movie they would move, but it could be anything from what’s already been announced, to a project that’s been successfully pitched recently, but not announced.
How About They Give It Back To Marvel?
Fantastic Four is a film property that’s been tried and failed three times, as Fox can’t seem to work out the material (not counting the Roger Corman film in the early 1990s); so maybe Marvel Studios should get the film rights back. There’s no reason for Fox to just hand it back, and they can sit on it for the next seven years before the rights revert back to Marvel, which is enough time to create a workable film.
The reason Fox would be really hesitant to just let the film slide back into Marvel Studios’ hands is that the Fantastic Four have a great stable of related characters, which include Galactus, Super Skrull, and Silver Surfer. So in theory, the X-Men could face off against Galactus, meaning the value of the Fantastic Four franchise extends beyond the core characters.
Marvel Studios has been trying to reclaim the film rights for all their characters, and now would be a great time for them to work out a deal of some sort. Fox has done extremely well with the X-Men property, and have been negotiating with Marvel to create a live-action television show, because, and this is important, Fox only controls the film rights, not the television rights. Marvel could use that as leverage to reclaim Fantastic Four, although I suspect Fox would want more than a single TV show for this deal.
If Marvel were to get its hands on the Fantastic Four property, I don’t see them in any rush to make a film based on it, as they have a massive film release schedule planned until 2019. However, after kicking off the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Guardians of the Galaxy, and continuing it with Captain Marvel and Inhumans in the next couple of years, then Super Skrull, Silver Surfer and Galactus become huge factors for the studio.
Just like the failure of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 led to a deal with Sony to bring Spider-Man into the MCU, Marvel could use the Fantastic Four’s failure to do the same. This is all speculation at this point, based on what I know and would like to see, but I’m positive there are more than a few phone calls and emails already being exchanged between Fox and Marvel. And don’t forget, Fox let the rights to Daredevil lapse, and Marvel and Netflix created a terrific TV series.