Things just seem to be going from bad to worse for Fantastic Four.
Dealing with an onslaught of negative reviews - it's currently sitting at 9% on RottenTomatoes - was one thing, but now the film has to contend with a flat opening weekend as more and more gory details emerge from the film's troubled production.
Fantastic Four is now on course to make less money than Trank's previous film, Chronicle. That film, which was made for $12,000,000 and ended up with $126,000,000 in total. So far, Fantastic Four is sitting around $34,000,000 on its opening weekend. Deadline believes that it'll eventually hit $200,000,000 if it gets a release in China.
Trank took to Twitter before the weekend in a hastily-deleted message, saying that there was a much better version of the film that will never see the light of day. This tracks with the consensus opinion on the film and with the latest splurge of gossip about the film itself.
Sources on set reported to EW that Trank clashed with the studio regularly. Sure, that's a common part of these blockbusters - but there's more. Fox allegedly drove Trank to a "breaking point", delaying casting decisions, script approvals, slashing the budget and changing the script as it neared production.
They also say that the studio didn't want Miles Teller to play Reed Richards, however acquiesced at Trank's urging. The relationship between Trank and Teller soured, however, as the tensions grew to overpower the set. Likewise, Trank had a cold relationship with Kate Mara, whom sources indicate that she wasn't Trank's first choice and was, essentially, a studio decision.
More precisely, however, is the ending. Allegedly, EW's source claims that Fox pulled three major action setpieces out of the film within days of shooting and rewrote and reshot the entire ending. Trank was, according to the source, essentially locked out of the editing process - which corroborates his deleted tweet from Thursday.
Whatever the case may be, whether these rumours have any truth or not, one thing is certain - Fantastic Four is pretty much finished for the moment. A sequel that's been scheduled for 2017 looks to be in doubt and it's reported that Fox were handing out surveys at a US screening, asking the audience to what to do with the franchise.
At the Fantastic Four screening and Fox is passing out a survey to decide what to do with the franchise...that's not a good thing.
— The Nerdpocalypse (@ThoseNerds) August 8, 2015
Whether the film will eventually be returned to Marvel / Disney remains uncertain, Trank's professional reputation is in tatters. However, that might just be the ticket for him. His first film, Chronicle, was warmly received by fans and was made for a modest budget. There's quite a few directors who've tried the studio path and just couldn't get to grips with it.
This might sound condescending, but there really is nothing wrong with that. Plenty of brilliant directors have turned away comic-book blockbusters because it didn't suit them. Just look at Edgar Wright's Ant-Man or Ava DuVernay's Black Panther. Already, other directors are stepping in to defend Trank and what happened.
Joe Carnahan, who's had a rocky relationship with major studios in the past, posted a tweet about his time with Mission: Impossible 3 before he departed, saying:
I just think of myself at roughly Trank's age on MI3 & if Twitter had been around then, I would have been a dead man with no career.
— Joe Carnahan (@carnojoe) August 7, 2015
The trolls had it in for Trank. If someone like Nolan had been behind FF, they couldn't get on their knees to felate that film, fast enough.
— Joe Carnahan (@carnojoe) August 7, 2015
We may never know exactly what happened on the set of Fantastic Four. Rumours will always circulate. People will talk. But what's interesting is that there hasn't been a troubled production like this for a major franchise in quite some time. People are already equating Fantastic Four to David Fincher's troubled Alien 3 and the comparison is apt.
Both were made by relatively untested directors who were given budgets far greater than they were used to. Both films were slammed in reviews and the directors were essentially written off. Both were produced by Fox. It remains to be seen if Trank will come out the other side of this.