After enduring an endless wave of criticism during its pre-release phase, Fox's recently released Fantastic Four reboot is now going through something much, much worse. The film has been the recipient of downright toxic word-of-mouth, as even those who appreciate its merits admit it all fizzles out at the end (read our review).
With all of the negative buzz (before the atrocious reviews started pouring in), it was never expected that the film would light the box office on fire a la The Avengers. However, given the popularity of superhero movies in general and the recognizability of the Fantastic Four brand, early tracking had it pegged for a $46 million debut. Now, it may not even reach that.
Variety is reporting that Fantastic Four managed a weak $2.7 million during advanced screenings on Thursday night. With the film struggling to draw in big crowds over the weekend, it's now estimated it will have a hard time crossing $30 million over its first three days, which would be a major blow for the studio.
Opening numbers that low are extremely rare in this genre. The last project to pull off the feat was The Green Hornet adaptation in 2011, and it's safe to say Fantastic Four has a little higher of a profile than that property. As the projections continue to decrease, Fox could be in danger of losing money on their $120 million investment. That figure pertains to the production costs, which usually do not include marketing prices, and that factor can add a significant amount to the total budget.
If Fantastic Four has any saving grace, it could be the international box office, which sometimes can help push a middling film into the black. However, it wouldn't be wise to bet on the reboot becoming a global phenomenon anytime soon. Yes, the film may eventually make its money back, but that doesn't mean the totals will be anything to write home about. The last time a superhero movie received reviews this venomous was Green Lantern in 2011 and that only managed $219.8 million (barely covering the $200 million production budget).
Before Fantastic Four came out, Fox expressed hope of one day crossing over this blossoming franchise with their X-Men series, but that will most likely end up being a pipe dream. It's become painfully obvious audiences are not responding well to this version of Reed Richards & Co., throwing any future plans for the property into a state of flux. You may recall the studio scheduled a Fantastic Four sequel for June 2017, but given recent developments that project may well be terminated.
After attempting (and failing) to deliver compelling Fantastic Four films in the mid-2000s, the hope was Fox had learned their lesson and would do the characters justice this time around. And when the movie's first trailer debuted, it painted a promising picture. Unfortunately for all involved, this iteration of the Fantastic Four on film went even worse than the first time, with director Josh Trank even expressing his displeasure with how things turned out. No matter how low the box office numbers get, it will merely be salt in the wound for Fox. At least there's Deadpool, right?
Fantastic Four is now playing in theaters, Deadpool will open on February 12, 2016; X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016; Gambit on October 7, 2016; Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017; Fantastic Four 2 on June 9, 2017; and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.