It’s hard to believe that in this day and age where comic-book adaptations are making billions of dollars in the movie theatres that there was a time when one of Marvel’s flagship comics couldn’t get on the big screen.
But that’s what happened to “The Fantastic Four” in the 1990s.
With the news of the horrible critical reaction and box-office return for the latest attempt to reboot the comic heroes over the weekend, many are looking back at the franchise’s not-so-impressive backstory, which includes a release in 2005 that starred Chris Evans as Johnny Storm and Jessica Alba as Sue Storm. That at least got a sequel two years later, “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer.”
But 11 years earlier marked the first time the Fantastic Four was to receive the movie treatment.
However, with budget constraints leading to legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman tasked to pull it off, and rumours that there was never even an intention to finish the movie, the 1994 version of “Fantastic Four” would never be released in theatres and has since become a bootleg cult classic.
But the unreleased film still had a trailer. Check out some of the best moments in GIF form:
Dr. Doom is the villain, and he means business.
Dr. Reed Richards is there to give a hand.
And take out the bad guys.
It’s clobberin’ time for The Thing.
Susan Storm makes the bad guys miss.
Dr. Doom tries to think up a better plan to defeat the “Fantastic Four.”
Needless to say, director Oley Sassone didn’t have enough money to make a decent superhero movie. A recent story on “The Fantastic Four” by Vice reports the budget was $US1.5 million, which even in the 1990s was extremely low.
As the story goes, German producer Bernd Eichinger obtained the rights to the “Fantastic Four” but couldn’t get a studio to back a big-screen adaptation. With the option on the rights close to expiring in 1992, Eichinger decided to make the movie on the cheap and brought on Corman to produce it.
According to the Vice story, Eichinger’s company Neue Constantin never intended to release the film, the only reason it was put into production was so the option on the rights to the “Fantastic Four” would be extended for 10 more years. Eichinger was producer on the 2005 reboot of “Fantastic Four” and its 2007 sequel.
However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, there’s another story about why the movie was never released.
Then-Marvel Entertainment executive Avi Arad bought the rights to the film, and when he saw the low-budget quality of the final product he decided not to release it and instead destroyed every print (expect his own, which is what led to it becoming a legendary bootleg must-have).
Regardless of which version of the story you believe, “The Fantastic Four” has gone on to find more acclaim than its 2005 reboot, and likely the 2015 one.
It was a major story arc in season four of “Arrested Development,” in which Tobias (David Cross) tried to make a musical version of “Fantastic Four” and the behind-the-scenes drama parodies what happened during the making of the 1994 film.
And a documentary about the making of the film, titled “Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s ‘The Fantastic Four,'” is coming soon to theatres.
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