In the months leading up to Fantastic Four’s release, rumors swirled of tensions between Fox and director Josh Trank. Though the studio and director tried to keep a happy face in the run-up to the film’s release, its terrible reviews and lackluster box office prompted Trank to break the charade and publicly disavow the film’s finished version. Now, in the wake of the fantastic flop, EW has the full, gossipy autopsy of what went wrong between Trank and Fox. The answer, it turns out, is nearly everything.
The project appears to have gone bad from the very start, as sources say Fox was always uncomfortable with the “traditional comic-book elements” ofFantastic Four’s story. And the studio and the director reportedly disagreed on casting: Trank fought hard for Miles Teller (only to end up fighting with him on-set), and he reportedly mistreated Kate Mara, who had been foisted upon him by the studio. Everyone agrees that production was slapdash and haphazard, but was that Trank’s fault, or was the studio hamstringing his decisions? His critics say he was “combative and abusive,” while his defenders point out that the studio dragged its feet on script approvals, gave Trank a budget “tens of millions” of dollars below what it had promised him, and often surprised him with last-second changes to the script.
In the end, was the Fantastic Four that made it into theaters even Trank’s film after all? No surprise, each side has their spin: Team Trank says the film was taken out of his hand by a meddlesome studio, while Team Fox says the studio was just trying to protect a talented-yet-erratic filmmaker from his own worst instincts. (Some of them now say Fox regrets not washing its hands of him completely.) When a film this big goes this wrong, everyone has an ax to grind, and the whetstones are only beginning to come out.