Movie-goers have slowly been turned against the big, movie studio machine. Aside from Marvel Studios or Pixar, it is a common notion that the big movie studios are good for financing your film but should, under no circumstances, actually get involved in the creative process. When the studio does decide to get involved we are led to believe that the movie will suffer and the director will be fully justified in stepping-back and taking little or no credit for what has been released.
The most recent case of this has been Josh Trank and Fantastic Four. Up to the movie’s release all seemed positive. The studio were brimming with confidence, the cast were making jokes about how this movie would be their chance to meet the X-Men, Trank was very happy with how progress was being made and new Fox-Marvel consultant, Mark Millar, was talking about how this was a unique but realistic way to bring the superhero family to the big screen.
Then Fantastic Four was released and the reviews were (rightfully) not good. So Josh Trank tweeted, after the film had been released, that “A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. It would probably have received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That is reality though.”
This wasn’t a complaint that Trank was making as the movie was being filmed. Trank wasn’t storming off set or publicly distancing himself from the movie during the process. Every interview I read he was happy with the way the film was going and how it was taking shape. It is only after release that Trank gave his frank opinion (one that was quickly removed from Twitter soon afterwards).
You have to wonder whether Trank was going to be so honest if the film had been a success. If everyone had loved the version of Fantastic Four we received, would Trank have held his hands up and said “not my version. Mine would have got great reviews but now you’ll never see it… because this one is actually really good, thanks studio!”
Maybe if Josh Trank is so certain his version would have been better he should tell us what it was. Release his details so we can all confirm whether it would be better. The reality is that it is very easy to blame a big, faceless corporation who has no singular name or individual who will take the responsibility. Trank is safe in the knowledge that there will be no reply because the Studio doesn’t need to reply, it has lost it’s money (or broke even) and will now move-on.
That feels too easy though. Of course a studio is going to get involved. The studio that finances your movie and decides how much money you can blow on special effects and star names for your picture will want some creative control but a director is well within their rights to then step away. Or if they are contracted, to make sure people know, before the fact, that they aren’t happy with the movie and how it is being made.
The reality is, it is a cheap cop-out not to take credit for your failures as well as your successes, or worse, be prepared to take the credit for the creative input someone else placed in your movie if it becomes a success.
Overall, I often think it is too easy to blame a Studio for a film’s creative failures. Directors are too quick to come out in public and distance themselves from a film, usually after release rather than just before. I’ve heavily criticised Josh Trank here but you can’t help but feel if things had gone slightly differently, we’d never have known about the Studio’s interference at all.