Director Josh Trank made a splash with his 2012 found-footage movie Chronicle, leading him to secure high-profile jobs directing the Fantastic Four reboot and a Star Wars Anthology film (read: Star Wars standalone feature). However, of late Trank's future in Hollywood has started looking less rosy - more so now that he has stepped down from directing his Star Wars movie.
Trank's official explanation for his departure from the second Star Wars Anthology movie - still expected to release in 2018 - cited his desire to "pursue original creative opportunities" as the reason for him stepping down. It's not a surprise that rumors are now circulating, claiming the truth behind the schism is less polite.
A THR update on the subject partially aligns with previous rumors about Fantastic Four issues - indicating Trank didn't skip the 2015 Star Wars Celebration because he was sick (as he claimed), but that Lucasfilm asked him not to attend, while a decision was made about whether to move ahead with him on the second Star Wars Anthology film or not (based partially on his behavior making Fantastic Four).
Here's the rundown of what the THR report claims about Trank's time working on Fantastic Four:
- Trank did NOT trash one of the film's sets (as previously rumored), but his dogs caused something in the order of $100,000 in damage to the New Orleans house that Trank rented while shooting Fantastic Four.
- Insiders say Trank was frequently "erratic" and "very isolated" during the Fantastic Four production, resulting in his directions often being not clear and unfocused.
- Trank was on set for both principal photography and reshoots on Fantastic Four, but producer/screenwriter Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past) and producer Hutch Parker often had to help take charge of things - and were so "heavily involved" with the reshoots (some taking place as recently as April 2015) that it took away from their duties on X-Men: Apocalypse (currently in production).
However, with all that being said, a Fox spokesman has asserted the studio is "very happy" with Trank's Fantastic Four movie, despite "bumps in the road" it encountered along the way to fruition.
The short of it is that past rumors that Fantastic Four is a "mess" and Trank was a nightmare to work with may have, unsurprisingly, been exaggerated... but there might well be some real fire behind all the smoke, nonetheless. THR's insiders likewise report that those involved with making Fantastic Four recognize Trank has talent, but it seems he was perhaps given too much responsibility too quickly, without being ready to handle it. Hence, Lucasfilm decided to part ways with him over his planned Star Wars movie.
... But is there another side to the story?
Trank citing a desire to work on "original creative opportunities" for passing on his Star Wars Anthology movie suggests he also won't direct the Fantastic Four sequel set for 2017 (assuming it happens). It's possible Trank just didn't take to the nature of the beast that is making a tentpole today - a job that requires you to begin promoting the movie well ahead of its release, which Trank didn't want to do with Fantastic Four.
Similarly, there are several famous examples of movies that endured difficult (or worse) productions on their way to becoming critical/commercial hits - and right now, all the controversy aside, the Fantastic Four reboot doesn't look half-bad. Thus, maybe Trank decided to step away from the world of big-budget franchise titles now, before he winds up with a real disaster on his hands.
That would explain Trank not wading deeper into that pool with a new Star Wars movie (and/or FF2), as opposed to the scenario where he was essentially dumped by Lucasfilm for his poor behavior on F4. As for the rumors about Trank's conduct on F4, well, they're called rumors for a reason - and again, may represent just one way of looking at the situation and/or partial truths.
It's certainly possible that the truth lies somewhere in the middle: that both Trank and Lucasfilm decided that, at this point in his career, he's not a good match to handle a Star Wars movie - and thus, their parting of the ways was, in fact, mutual. Either way, the final result is the same: Trank appears to be stepping away from massive franchise projects for the time being, while Lucasfilm is on the hunt for someone to direct the second Star Wars Anthology film. Whether or not things work out for the best for both parties, that we'll just have to wait and see.
Fantastic Four opens August 7th, 2015, Deadpool on February 12th, 2016, X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27th, 2016, Gambit on October 7th, 2016, Wolverine 3 (not the official title) on March 3rd, 2017, Fantastic Four 2 on June 9th, 2017, and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13th, 2018.