Flame Off | Fox Quietly Cancels The ‘Fantastic Four’ Sequel

In a turn of events that will surprise nobody, except perhaps some of the executives at 20th Century Fox, the sequel to this summer’s box office dud Fantastic Four has been cancelled.

The news came with no fanfare and no comment. Fantastic Four 2 has simply been removed from the studio’s upcoming schedule (via Coming Soon). It was originally set to debut on June 2, 2017, just one week after Star Wars: Episode VIII, where – if the audience response to this last Fantastic Four is any indication – it would have been completely obliterated.  

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In an age where films based on beloved geek properties are promoted years in advance, with high profile press releases, behind the scenes vlogs, pictures, and trailers for trailers to trailers, the latest Fantastic Four movie was barely marketed at all. Audiences started to notice that 20th Century Fox seemed keen to keep the film low profile, if they noticed that the film was coming out at all.

Then the film was released to abysmal reviews, including our own. Fantastic Four has a mere 10% on Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the worst reviewed superhero movies in history. (Even Batman & Robin, a film famously considered one of the worst motion pictures ever made, has an 11% rating.) The film’s director, Josh Trank, publicly distanced himself from the film on Twitter. In other words, as far as Fantastic Four was concerned, it was clobbering time.

20th Century Fox no doubt remained hopeful that Fantastic Four would perform well overseas, warranting a continuation of the franchise, but the film came out nearly four months ago and has only grossed approximately $168 million worldwide. The film cost $120 million to produce, and that doesn’t even include the marketing budget. It is entirely possible that the film has yet to turn a real profit, but even if it has, it has been a very small one.

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If Fox wants to keep the rights to Fantastic Four they will have to make a movie based on the property within the next few years, or else the rights will revert back to Marvel. (A turn of events that would no doubt make many audience members happy.)

Conventional wisdom suggests that Fox would do anything in their power to keep their hands on what could be a very lucrative superhero property, but the emphasis there should be on the words “could be.” If the studio has no idea how to make a Fantastic Four movie work, and if keeping the property for themselves requires spending lots of time and money that they will only recover if they are lucky, the studio may decide that it’s simply not worth the trouble.

Only time will tell. Time, and a very watchful eye on 20th Century Fox’s website, because otherwise we may not find out about their plans for Fantastic Four at all, apparently.

Photo: 20th Century Fox

William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.