Twentieth Century Fox has been making a great case for why it deserves to hold onto several of its Marvel film licenses in recent years thanks to the successes of X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past. These films earned critical acclaim and the latter set a financial record for the franchise. Even the second Wolverine solo movie was a respectable film that deserves a sequel, and we don't even need to get into how amazing the marketing has been so far for next year's Deadpool. You get the point.
The studio didn't help itself this summer though in its attempt at rebooting Fantastic Four. It's been well-documented how the new Fantastic Four is the worst reviewed Marvel-branded film ever, but its problems go beyond its reception. Financially, the film is an epic failure, its opening weekend described as a "nightmare," and it's on track to make less than half of what Fox's previous Fantastic Four movies each earned at the box office a decade earlier. Add to that the widespread reports of fighting on set, studio hesitation, and an original story that was seemingly scrapped at the last minute for the junk that eventually released and everyone wants to know what really happened.
There are fingers pointed in a lot of directions for who to blame but the night before Fantastic Four opened in theaters, director Josh Trank found himself at the center of controversy (and needing a lawyer) after tweeting that he had a great movie a year ago but the studio process ruined it. He quickly deleted the tweet but not before the damage was done.
On social media and in the press, the cast and crew went practically silent following Fantastic Four's release but WENN news agency caught up to Kata Mara who plays Sue Storm in the film - a casting choice Trank reportedly wasn't keen on - and she described the director's words as "highly disappointing."
As for the reports of a fight almost breaking out on set between Trank and Miles Teller, and other reports of Trank being isolated and not working well with the cast or crew in general, Mara would only say that it was a "tricky shoot" but that it was a "good time" overall, especially thanks to the strong bond between the main cast members.
"It was a tricky shoot but you know... When you know when you're shooting it that a film isn't going to be what you want it to be (sic)? That was not the case at all."
Mara also claims, despite attending a red carpet premiere for Fantastic Four, that she still hasn't watched the movie because of how poor the reviews were.
Once more time goes by and the stars of the film move onto promoting other projects, for which there will be many for the talented cast, we'll learn more about what really went on. We do know that there was a plan in place for something much different and much bigger, involving other Marvel characters and even certain familiar Fantastic Four vehicles. For more on that, check out the concept art which reveals unused locations in the film.
As for what's next for the franchise, Fox’s president of domestic distribution Chris Aronson told the New York Times that the studio would be keeping the rights to the Fantastic Four and will "find ways to make use of them." The studio had set (and still holds) a June 2017 release date for Fantastic Four 2 which seems entirely unrealistic at this point.
"That's the thing that makes me most bummed because we have no idea if we'll ever make another one."
Update: Speaking to MTV News at TIFF, Mara also adding that it's "unlikely that [a sequel] will happen, but I would love to [do one]. I would love to play Sue Storm in a movie that everybody loves. That would be great."
The brand is tarnished, perhaps even beyond repair at Fox, especially given that many of the greatest stories involving members of the FF team in recent years involve other characters at Marvel Studios. Fox can always cross them over with their successful X-Men movies but what's the point?
Fantastic Four is currently in theaters. Deadpool opens February 12, 2016; X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016; Gambit on October 7, 2016; Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017; Fantastic Four 2 (probably not anymore) on June 9, 2017; and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.