By Pamela McClintock
The news just kept getting worse for Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot as it began rolling out in theaters.
Not only were reviews scathing — resulting in a 9 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes — audiences on Friday night gave the $120 milliion Fox tentpole a C- CinemaScore, the worst grade that anyone can remember for a marquee superhero title made by a major Hollywood studio. (CinemaScore, based in Las Vegas, was founded in 1979.)
In 2008, The Spirit, based on the comic strip and directed by Frank Miller, likewise received a C- CinemaScore, but that film was produced and financed independently by OddLot Entertainment, and cost far less to make, or roughly $60 million.
Last Thursday, Trank tweeted that the final version of Fantastic Four was not his own, and that his version would have gotten better notices. (He later deleted the tweet.)
Fox domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson wouldn’t comment on the tweet but said Sunday afternoon that the “studio fully supported Josh Trank’s vision for the film, as we do with all our filmmakers.”
For the weekend, Fantastic Four, starring Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell, topped out at a dismal $26.2 million from 3,995 theaters in North America, one of the lowest openings of all time for a Marvel Comics film adaptation.
Audiences have rarely given superhero movies variations of a C grade, even those that have failed at the box office. The Green Hornet, flopping in 2011 with a $33.5 million debut, received a B+ CinemaScore, while duds Elektra, Catwoman and Daredevil earned a B. Exceptions include Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance (C+), Batman and Robin (C+) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace ©.
The Hollywood Reporter revealed in May that Trank’s behavior and unusual conduct on set was a cause of great concern for the studio and producers Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker. Trank was tasked with rebooting the Fantastic Four franchise — the previous two films each received a B CinemaScore — after impressing with his edgy, low-budget superhero film Chronicle.
Heading into the weekend, Fantastic Four was expected to clear at least $40 million, although many expected it to approach $50 million. No one’s sure what the film’s start means for the sequel, which is already dated for June 2017.