Last week, Fox’s latest take on Marvel’s Fantastic Four hit theaters to meager box office and much fanfare – the overwhelming majority of it negative. The unmitigated crappiness of Fantastic Four kept the Internet Hot Take Mill going for a full weekend and then some, dissecting the what, the why and the how. One would think all of that would be enough for Fox to put Marvel’s First Family away for another decade, but HitFix‘s Drew McWeeny says a Fantastic Four sequel is still part of the studio’s agenda.
The assertion comes as part of a larger, longer dissection about where Fantastic Four went off the rails, and how much fault lies with director Josh Trank and how much lies with the studio, in his estimation:
Everything I’ve heard would indicate that the studio will move forward with a Fantastic Four sequel. It may not make that original 2017 date, but they’re definitely planning to make it. The next filmmaker in is going to start from a difficult position, and they’re going to have to work hard to create their own movie while starting with some of Trank’s choices intact. For better or worse, Trank was given room to define these characters, and his signature will remain on the next film no matter who writes and directs it. The next movie will be a reaction to this one.
It’s an interesting read, and worth your time if you’re into that sort of thing. But if it’s true that Fox wants to keep this new franchise alive, it’s both totally perplexing and entirely understandable. On the one hand, it’s entirely undeniable that Fantastic Four is a bomb. It pulled in just over $33 million in its opening weekend by some estimates, far, far less than recouping its reported budget of $122M. By contrast, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – the movie that was such a commercial and critical embarrassment for Sony it cut a deal with Disney to get the character under the Marvel Cinematic Universe umbrella – earned $91M in its opening weekend. That’s a bit of comparing apples and oranges, sure, but it does kind of illustrate just how poor a showing Fantastic Four has had so far, and that’s to say nothing of the complete and utter critical panning its gotten. Smart money would suggest that Fox is better off cutting its losses.
At the same time, continuing to make Fantastic Four movies means that Fox gets to retain the rights to the characters and prevent them from reverting back to Marvel. Granted, they don’t necessarily have to make another film right away to make sure that happens – Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer hit theaters in 2007 – but trying to course-correct with sequels and a new director is almost certainly favorable to another reboot. Plus, with a core cast as strong as you’ve got here, you want to try and keep them around if you can. The crappy, lame foundation has been laid, so Fox will have an easier time getting an effective movie off the ground in a sequel (of course, there’s something to be said about the moviegoing public who will avoid the movie in droves based on the reputation of the first one). And if that rumored X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover is still a going concern, that could help reinvigorate the brand.
Of course, until an official source comes forward to confirm that, yes, Fantastic Four 2 is a thing that’s happening, we can stick this firmly in the “rumor” camp for now, though HitFix is generally pretty reliable. And with any luck, Fox will use the Trank trainwreck (or “Trankwreck,” as it were) as a jumping off point for a decent flick with a director they can get along a little better with.