Fantastic Four grossed a disastrous $26.2 million this weekend on a movie that cost $120 million to produce, and even adding the $34 million it earned overseas, calling it a “flop” is warranted. It was worse than just about anyone predicted (many projected a $40 million opening) and the worst opening for a movie featuring Marvel characters (though it was distributed by Fox) since Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance‘s $22.1 million in 2012. As Forbes noted, “It would have almost been madness to predict that Fantastic Four was going to perform as badly as it did this weekend.”
The movie had pretty much everything going against it. Two previous terrible Fantastic Four movies from not that long ago already poisoned the brand, the marketing was bad (just look at this poster), and the movie wasn’t any good (my review). And there’s no need to dance on its grave, because whether it’s Josh Trank’s fault or Fox’s, everyone involved seemed to realize that this was a doomed project about halfway through production and washed their hands of it. Trank couldn’t stand behind it (understandably), and there are hints the studio weren’t big fans either.
For instance, let’s say you were marketing a huge movie called “Fantastic Four” that you spend $120 million making. What would be the most obvious thing to put in your press kit? A picture of the actual Fantastic Four, right? And yet 20th Century Fox put out just one picture of the four main characters together, and it’s with their backs turned:
I guess I wouldn’t want to show my face in that either. Here’s another tremendous shot from the Fantastic Four Facebook page:
Maybe they were just expecting us to Photoshop our own? Fine, I’ll take a crack at it:
How bad was it? Fantastic Four earned a C- Cinemascore. Even Pixels got a B. Sure, Adam Sandler fans are a self-selecting group (possibly a naturally-selected group), but even critics liked it less than Pixels, 9% recommended to 18%.
The film played 60% male, 51% under 25 years old, 45% Caucasian, 22% African America, 17% Hispanic, and 16% Asian.
…there is a really good chance that Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four ends up grossing less than Josh Trank’s Chronicle ($64.5m on a $12m budget). The best case scenario offers a 2.75x weekend-to-final, comparable with the 2005 Fantastic Four ($56m/$154m), which gives this film a $75m domestic total. [Forbes]
The easy Monday morning quarterback conclusion is that Fox screwed up hiring a young director fresh off a small-budget hit to direct a massive-budget blockbuster, but that’s ignoring the fact that Colin Trevorrow was fresh off an even smaller movie than Chronicle, yet directed Jurassic World, which is now the third-highest grossing movie of all time (not adjusting for inflation).
“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. [Reuters]
Translation: people talked to each other about how much it sucked.
The real takeaway here is that if you are going to hire a hot, young director to give some street cred to your reboot-you’re-only-making-to-retain-the-rights movie, make sure you’re on the same page about the story before the cameras roll. You wonder what would’ve happened to Ant-Man if Edgar Wright had left during post-production, rather than pre-production. As for what happens now, I think it’s going to take a few more massive superhero flops before Fox stops trying to make Fantastic Four happen, but we can dream.
Elsewhere, The Gift, which was actually pretty good, or at least a lot better than I expected, earned $12 million, already doubling its $5 million production budget for Blumhouse and STX Entertainment. I’m not a huge fan of the Paranormal Activity series, but if Blumhouse can make a wide-release movie with recognizable actors in it for $5 million, you have to wonder why more people aren’t doing it. More of these sounds a lot more interesting than more bloated, factory-made superhero turds to me. Just imagine, we could’ve had 24 The Gifts for the price of one Fantastic Four.
Shaun of the Sheep had the best Cinemascore of this weekend’s new movies (B+), but was the least seen, earning just $4 million, the worst yet for an Aardman Animation film. Are they actually advertising that anywhere? That might help.
Ricki and the Flash earned just $7 million for the weekend, though it only cost $12 million to make. That’s actually pretty good considering it had arguably the worst trailer of the year, a terrible title, and every time I passed a billboard for it I groaned audibly. Also, did anyone even know that it was a Diablo Cody movie? Despite all that, I kind of liked it. Fire that marketing team.
This weekend brings us Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (God I hate typing that) and Straight Outta Compton.