By John Hamann
August 9, 2015
We have a new term at the box office for when a big budget movie flops after the director distances himself from the product the night BEFORE it opens. More than a flop, more than a disappointment, Josh Trank's Fantastic Four has "tranked" this weekend.
The box office has a disease this weekend. That sickness is Fantastic Four, the Fox property that cost $122 million to make, was bumped from its original release date and had rumored re-shoots. It also was saddled with director who couldn’t keep his mouth shut and his twitter posts neutral. Moviegoers were aware of the disease at movie theaters and stayed away en masse. Newcomer Ricki and the Flash with Meryl Streep caught the disease, as did the Shaun the Sheep, which must have been infected with mad sheep disease.
There were bright spots at the box office, with the biggest being The Gift, the new Joel Edgerton film from upstart distributor STX Entertainment. This new venture is arriving on the scene just as Relativity Media is imploding. Things do rise from the ashes, like STX, but Fantastic Four will live in the rubble for a long time to come.
It was a very close race for number one, even though it wasn’t supposed to be as early as a few days ago. Tracking for Fantastic Four was calling for $45-$50 million less than a week ago, a happier time when no one had seen the attempted reboot. Tracking estimates were released Monday, and on Tuesday, four or five large entertainment media outlets posted reviews. From that point forward, it was over. Those reviews were overtly negative and confirmed all of the harrowing production rumors we have heard over the last year.
The talent was wasted, the money was not on the screen, the effects were bad, and it took too long to get the group together. Those are just a few of the early comments. The next day, the critical beating continued as the Fox review embargo was lifted one day prior to Thursday previews. Right around those first screenings on Thursday, Josh Trank turned to Twitter and said, “A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though." That quote ended Fantastic Four.
As expected, the media and the Internet jumped all over the Josh Trank tweet (and rightfully so). Whether Fox interfered or not in the making of the film, if you want to continue to direct movies, go to Aruba for a few weeks, unplug, and the let the mess settle – at least you might work again. The result was a Thursday night box office preview amount of $2.7 million, followed by a Friday of $8.6 million, which equalled a combined $11.3 million opening day. Batman & Robin, Joel Schumacher’s nightmarishly bad film (11% fresh), had an opening day of $16.1 million, and that was 18 years ago. It was $10 million behind both the 2005 version of Fantastic Four and its sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer. The series was rebooted so it would earn $10 million MORE on opening day compared to the last version, not $10 million less. The chickens had come home to roost, and things were not going to improve.