Josh Trank directed parts of Fantastic Four in a tent and even more behind-the-scenes drama


So Fantastic Four is a dud, as John-Charles noted in his review, one that will lead to a $60 million loss for Fox. There was a lot of behind-the-scenes drama between Fox and director Josh Trank as we noted earlier in the week. Well, turns out there was even more drama than the initial report let on.

How bad was it? So bad that the Fantastic Four production was described as “chaos.” (“Chaos” may also describe Nick’s digestive tract after eating the Denny’s Slamtastic Four menu.)

Yesterday, Kim Masters of The Hollywood Reporter continued the fascinating post-mortem of Fantastic Four‘s woes. Here’s the killer lede from her story:

Days before Fantastic Four opened, director Josh Trank sent an email to some members of the cast and crew to say he was proud of the film, which, he wrote, was “better than 99 percent of the comic-book movies ever made.”

“I don’t think so,” responded one castmember.

Ouch. And it gets way worse.

Masters’ piece at THR confirmed that director Josh Trank was apparently very reclusive on set, and had a strange habit of retreating to a tent. From the article:

“[Trank] holed up in a tent and cut himself off from everybody,” says one high-level source. Literally, there was a tent on the Louisiana set. “He built a black tent around his monitor,” says a crewmember. “He was extremely withdrawn.” Between setups, this person adds, “he would go to his trailer and he wouldn’t interact with anybody.”

Trank’s discontentment led to some testy interactions with his cast and crew. In Anthony Breznican’s earlier behind-the-scenes drama piece for Entertainment Weekly, he mentioned that Trank had a cold and potentially cruel on-set relationship with Kate Mara. (Mara was not Trank’s first choice for Sue Storm but rather Fox’s pick for the role.)

Masters’ report at THR reveals some bizarre choices that Trank made regarding his actors’ performances:

Several sources say Fox stood by Trank as he pushed a gloomy tone on young stars Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell. “During takes, he would be telling [cast members] when to blink and when to breathe,” one person says. “He kept pushing them to make the performance as flat as possible.”

I have no idea what Trank’s intentions were. A director should be attentive of an actor’s performance, but this much attention to blinking and mannerisms surely robs a performance of its humanity. Maybe Trank felt that by draining the performances of intensity he could create a grittier and more realistic film. Or maybe the whole Fantastic Four project had turned him into a total malcontent, and Trank was in over-his-head crafting a tent-pole film.

When our EIC Matt Razak ran down the first batch of drama, he brought up the damage Trank and his pet dogs allegedly did to a house rented for production. Masters in her THR piece brings up some troubling revelations with that issue:

As THR reported in May, Trank and his dogs allegedly caused more than $100,000 worth of damage to a rented house in Baton Rouge that he and his wife occupied while the film was shooting there. Sources say now that after landlord Martin Padial moved to evict Trank, photographs of the landlord’s family that were in the house were defaced. Padial made a complaint to the local sheriff’s department and filed a civil suit in Louisiana that is sealed. Padial’s attorney, Michael Bienvenu, declined to comment on the matter. The sheriff’s department says the case was “closed as a civil matter between landlord and tenant.”

By now you’re probably more fascinated by the drama behind the latest Fantastic Four than you are the actual film. If so, give Kim Masters’ piece a full read, as she goes into greater detail about Fox’s attempts to salvage the film and worries about Trank’s abilities in pre-production. Expect more details to emerge as the weeks go by,

The most important point in all this is that Fox rushed the Fantastic Four into production in order to maintain their film rights. Blockbuster filmmaking is a greedy and sometimes ugly business, and that may be the legacy of this new Fantastic Four movie: peel back a layer and there’s the dark heart of Hollywood. While Trank bears the blame for directing the film and losing control, Fox is just as worthy of blame for being a bunch of soulless corporate capitalist zombies.

The key line in Masters’ report that sums up all the drama may be this:

The movie was “ill-conceived, made for the wrong reasons and there was no vision behind the property,” this [crewmember] says. “Say what you will about Marvel but they have a vision.”

If Fox wants to avoid another disaster, the should cede the rights to people with vision.

[via THR, EW]
Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.