Fox’s ‘Fantastic Four’ Reboot May Already Be in Trouble

The studio named the cast for next spring's 'Fantastic Four' reboot in a rushed attempt to steal PR momentum from Marvel and 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' and got crushed in the process.

Feb 22, 2014 at 3:34PM

Fantastic Four Slots

Before he was Captain America, Chris Evans played the Human Torch in 2005's Fantastic Four. Credit: Twenty-First Century Fox.

Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) executives have decided who they want for the studio's Fantastic Four reboot. Kate Mara will play Sue Storm ("The Invisible Woman") with Michael B. Jordan as her brother Johnny ("The Human Torch"). Miles Teller is in talks to play Reed Richards ("Mr. Fantastic") and Jamie Bell is thought to have landed the role of Ben Grimm ("The Thing").

The Internet didn't react well to the news. Maybe not on the same scale as the "Batfleck" backlash, but also not without cause. As CNN entertainment reporter David Daniel put it on Twitter:

Fantastic hurdles
Fair point, and yet we needn't dwell on these sorts of problems when history offers a much bigger hurdle. Soaring expectations for new Marvel-sourced films makes Fox's earlier efforts with the Fantastic Four franchise looks bleak by comparison:

Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Avg. Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie

Domestic gross

$154.7 million

$131.9 million

$295.2 million

International gross

$175.9 million

$157.1 million

$413.0 million

Production budget

$100 million

$130 million

$171.3 million

Estimated break-even

$200 million

$260 million

$342.5 million

Rotten Tomatoes ratings

(critics / audiences)

27% / 46%

37% / 52%

78% / 80%

Sources: Box Office Mojo, Rotten Tomatoes.

I mention this because Fox either deliberately or accidentally leaked its casting progress the same week that Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Marvel Studios started marketing Guardians of the Galaxy. Could it have been just a flub? It's honestly hard to know. In a video interview with MTV News, actress Kate Mara responded to news of her casting by denying she'd been cast.

"According to Twitter, I am [in the movie]," Mara said. "I literally don't know 100% that I have the part.... I don't like to celebrate before something's real because how embarrassing would that be? I hope so." She's since confirmed the news in a tweet. If only enough people cared.

Overshadowed by a talking tree
Instead, fans seem to be ignoring the Fox project and rocking out to Blue Swede's 1974 hit "Hooked on a Feeling," which backed Guardians' two-and-a-half minute trailer. Billboard reports that sales of the track zoomed more than 700% the morning after the trailer aired Tuesday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Roughly 9.5 million have tuned in since.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Poster Wide

Guardians of the Galaxy opens Aug. 1 in U.S theaters. Credit: Marvel Entertainment.

The Social Web has proven to be just as interested in the rag-tag group, which includes the gun-toting raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and the tree-like Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). According to research firm Fizziology, Guardians of the Galaxy inspired 88,000 social media mentions in the first 12 hours following the trailer's release. By contrast, Man of Steel earned 75,000 mentions in the first 24 hours after the release of its first trailer. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 garnered 96,000 mentions over a similar period.

Even better, hardcore fans like me -- a tough crowd, in many respects -- appear to love what Guardians director James Gunn has planned. Of the 800-plus who responded to a poll asking what they thought of the trailer, more than half called it "perfection." Another 7% said they "liked it a lot" while just under 30% thought it was a good introduction but want to see more. Only 11% expressed serious doubts about the film.

Verdict: a bad business move by Fox
Which brings us back to the Fantastic Four reboot. For better or worse, Marvel Studios has set a high standard for what fans expect from a branded film, even if it's another studio working on the property. Guardians' introduction only served to reinforce that theme, and it did so right as Fox fumbled its casting reveal for the new FF film.

If there's good news here it's that The Fantastic Four doesn't open till June of 2015. Maybe that's enough time for fans to get hooked on a feeling about Mara, Jordan, Teller, and Bell as Marvel's First Family. Right now, they're too preoccupied with a spacefaring varmint, a talking tree, a Han Solo wannabe, a vengeance-driven force of nature, and a green-skinned assassin to notice.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Have you seen the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy? If not, enjoy below, and then leave a comment to let us know what you think of the prospects for both films.

The trailer that started the social media firestorm, and overshadowed Fox's Fantastic Four reveal in the process. Sources: Marvel Entertainment, YouTube.

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Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Walt Disney at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home and portfolio holdings or connect with him on Google+Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

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