The latest Fantastic Four flick is an abysmal flop of such proportions that multiple outlets have run what-went-wrong-style pieces in its wake. Today’s comes via The Hollywood Reporter and it is utterly delicious. Kim Masters’s “Fantastic Four Blame Game: Fox, Director Josh Trank Square Off Over On-Set ‘Chaos’” tells the story of a spandex-hungry studio that made a superhero movie “for the wrong reasons” and a relatively inexperienced young director who was in over his head when tasked with crafting a blockbuster and, as a result, behaved like an utter maniac.
The first exquisite detail comes via the anonymous response to a deludedly self-assured email that Trank sent:
Days before Fantastic Four opened, director Josh Trank sent an email to some members of the cast and crew to say he was proud of the film, which, he wrote, was “better than 99 percent of the comic-book movies ever made.”
“I don’t think so,” responded one cast member.
Cast member, I may hate your movie but I fucking love you. Who the hell are you? We are given no indication of who actually sent this, but here are my guesses in order of strongest suspicion to weakest:
2. Tim Heidecker, who maybe was just being funny?
3. Chet Haze, who is douchey enough to write something like that without even realizing that it’s funny.
4. Dan Castellaneta, who’s been in the business long enough to recognize a debacle when he sees one.
Trank, it seems, was way more eccentric on set than he ever allowed his characters to be. He acted like Michael Shannon’s and Ashley Judd’s meth-addict characters in Bug, in fact. Writes Masters:
...By several accounts, he resisted help. “He holed up in a tent and cut himself off from everybody,” says one high-level source. Literally, there was a tent on the Louisiana set. “He built a black tent around his monitor,” says a crewmember. “He was extremely withdrawn.” Between setups, this person adds, “he would go to his trailer and he wouldn’t interact with anybody.”
Trank reportedly micromanaged down to the breath, which makes his failure that much more damning to his ability:
“During takes, he would be telling [cast members] when to blink and when to breathe,” one person says. “He kept pushing them to make the performance as flat as possible.”
And then there is this utter insanity:
As THR reported in May, Trank and his dogs allegedly caused more than $100,000 worth of damage to a rented house in Baton Rouge that he and his wife occupied while the film was shooting there. Sources say now that after landlord Martin Padial moved to evict Trank, photographs of the landlord’s family that were in the house were defaced. Padial made a complaint to the local sheriff’s department and filed a civil suit in Louisiana that is sealed. Padial’s attorney, Michael Bienvenu, declined to comment on the matter. The sheriff’s department says the case was “closed as a civil matter between landlord and tenant.”
Trank is but one spoke on this bike ride to hell:
A crew member acknowledges that Trank bears much of the fault for the film’s problems but also says the Fox studio should not escape blame. The movie was “ill-conceived, made for the wrong reasons and there was no vision behind the property”...
To that, I say: NO. SHIT.
Masters’s piece, which I urge you to read, is, in a word, fantastic. It is far more entertaining than the movie it covers and, from my spectator perspective, almost makes the entire disaster worth it. It seems to me like there’s a great movie to be made about the behind-the-scenes madness of Fantastic Four. Trank’s vision is worth observing, just not via the package he intended.
[Image via Getty]