When a bad movie is released, everybody from the studio to the media spends a lot of time trying to figure out what the problem was. This past summer’s Fantastic Four reboot went sideways so quickly that people started to figure out where it went wrong about a week before it was released. Producer Simon Kinberg says there are a lot of things that go into making movies, and when even the smallest thing goes wrong the entire thing can fall apart.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kinberg is asked what exactly went wrong with the "Fantastic" bomb. While the producer says he hasn’t done a full diagnosis, he does know that it doesn’t take much. Kinberg theorized that the following was the ultimate downfall of Fantastic Four:
It was a hard movie to make, but I've made a lot of hard movies. I do think that there is a great Fantastic Four movie with that cast. But there's so many different elements that need to come together perfectly. It's like a collaboration between all these strangers. And if there's a few things that don't go right, it's hard to recover from.
The first part of Kinberg’s statement is certainly true. Reports from the set of the film depicted director Josh Trank going out of his mind and yelling at people, as well as endless reshoots that used up the funds set aside for the film’s planned 3D conversion. Simon Kinberg, very professionally, doesn’t call any of these issues out specifically. He even says he would work with Josh Trank again, "in the right context." He doesn’t specify if the right context includes Trank being separated by a brick wall.
It’s easy enough to accuse Kinberg of being political with his answers, but at the end of the day he’s not wrong. There are a lot of moving parts, and it isn’t necessarily always clear where things aren’t working. Kinberg mentions his work on Mr & Mrs. Smith, which he wrote while in film school, as another movie that went through extensive reshoots and came out great on the other side. Just because the film had problems did not mean it was going to turn out bad.
Whether or not there’s still a potentially great Fantastic Four movie with this cast is a question that may still be answered. Fox is still standing behind their planned sequel, so who knows what will happen? On paper, the cast is a strong one, and by the time a potential sequel comes out they’ll only be stronger. For example, Kate Mara is in the current smash The Martian, which Simon Kinberg also produced. Also, Michael B. Jordan is about take a bow in a huge starring turn with the Rocky spinoff, Creed. Both are demanding projects that will help sharpen both actors for any potential returns to the Baxter Building.
If the Fantastic Four sequel is still coming, somebody better do a real postmortem and figure out the mistakes of the first film. Whatever thing, or combination of things, that didn’t work need to be fixed or removed. The Fantastic Four deserve a good movie, and we’re all getting tired of waiting.