In 2015, “Fantastic Four” was released, a film reboot of the Marvel Comics characters, whose director Josh Trank, a few hours from the world premiere, completely fell out of the final cut of the film.
The film turned out to be shattered by critics and ended up being one of 20th Century Fox’s biggest box office failures.
There is much speculation regarding the re-shots made during the filming of that movie and the behavior of its director, but in a new interview with Polygon, Trank has decided to tell his side of the facts.
Following the success of his low-budget movie “Chronicle,” Fox had promised Trank complete creative control over this project. Scripted by his friend Jeremy Slater, Trank planned for this movie to be a prep for the sequel to show the characters in all their glory.
“The end of the film would organically prepare for adventure, weirdness, and fun. That would be the full goal of the sequel, “he says. “The first movie was going to be basically the film version of how I saw myself at the time: the metaphor of these characters coming out of hell.”
The differences began when Trank and Slater did not agree on the tone of the film. Slater was a genuine fan of comics and Trank wanted to remove many of the elements from them in this installment.
In order to maintain control over the project, Trank interposed himself as a mediator between Slater and the studio, demanding that Slater not speak to Fox executives unless he was present.
This caused Slater to leave the project after six months, to which Fox brought his own team of writers to try to put together something that “was filmable”. This caused the film to go into production without even having a finished script.
Trank admits that after reading fan comments on IMDb where he was threatened after hiring Michael B Jordan as Johnny Storm, he started sleeping with a gun under his pillow.
The first cut of the film caught Fox off guard, you want assured that the film was not “made for fans”, seeing the need to re-record the final sequences without supervision by Trank, who assures that Stephen Rivkin, the editor, he became the “de facto director” of the film.
The film’s producers, Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker, were the ones who wrote the new pages of the script for the reshoots, and even though Trank wrote his own annotations, they were ignored.
“It was like having been castrated,” says the filmmaker. “You are standing there and basically you see the producers blocking scenes five minutes after being there. Hiring studio editors deciding the sequences of the shots to build whatever is going on and what they need. And then, because they know you are being good, they are almost good at saying ‘You can say yes or no,” Trank says he said yes because he wanted to keep the job.
During that time, Josh Trank was working on a movie about Boba Fett from the Star Wars saga.
Trank concludes that he ended up giving up on the project, stating that if he didn’t, he was likely to be fired.