Box Office: 'Fantastic Four' bombs with $26.2 million weekend
By Brent Lang
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Scathing reviews and an indiscreet tweet left "Fantastic Four" on the slab after the franchise reboot flopped at the weekend box office.
Fox's hopes of rejuvenating the comicbook characters and turning the super-team into a cinematic juggernaut to rival "X-Men" have flamed out given that the film debuted to a dreadful $26.2 million across 3,995 theaters. With a production budget of $120 million, plus millions more in marketing costs, the film will need to get a boost from foreign crowds if it wants to avoid being a write-off.
The studio was banking on a cast of up-and-coming actors like Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller and a wunderkind director in the form of "Chronicle's" Josh Trank to push the Human Torch, the Thing, Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic into the modern era, but production difficulties may have doomed the project. Trank reportedly exhibited bizarre behavior on set that was so extreme it cost him his gig directing a "Star Wars" spinoff. He seemed to acknowledge those tensions, blaming studio-mandated reshoots for the poor critical notices in a tweet Thursday that he subsequently deleted.
"This turned into a nightmare for Fox," said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. "Everything that could go wrong went wrong and the whole thing fell apart."
"Fantastic Four's" opening is well below the $40 million-plus debut that most analysts had projected and trails the $56 million launch of 2005's "Fantastic Four" and the $58 million bow of 2007's "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer." It's the worst opening for a movie featuring Marvel Comics' characters since "Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance" debuted to $22.1 million in 2012. A C- CinemaScore means that word-of-mouth is going to be toxic.
"The confluence of clearly the decidedly negative reviews with the combination of social media did not help the cause," said Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson.
He was not willing to write off the "Fantastic Four" series yet, but stressed that the studio would be engaged in a rigorous postmortem about the film's failure. The foursome's future might be as supporting players in other comicbook characters' movies.
"We have a lot to look forward to in our comicbook character universe," said Aronson. "We may find different ways to feature these characters in the future, but it's early and we'll have to see what form that takes." Continued...