Fantastic Four in Film - Development


Bernd Eichinger of Constantin Film purchased the film rights of the Fantastic Four in 1986 from Marvel. In 1992, Eichinger would lose the rights for the characters if he did not produce the film by the end of the year, so he hired Roger Corman's company to produce a low-budget film. In 1994, the adaptation, titled The Fantastic Four, had its trailer released to theaters, and its cast and director went on a promotional tour, but the film was never officially released. Also, the film was accused of being an ashcan copy, meaning the film was made only to keep the license. It has been reported by Stan Lee and producer Bernd Eichinger that the actors had no idea of the situation, instead believing they were creating a serious release. Marvel paid an undisclosed amount of money in exchange for the entire film negative, so 20th Century Fox could go ahead with the big-budget adaptation.

In 1997, Peter Segal was attached to a script which had been written by Chris Columbus and Michael France. Segal left the project but changed his mind that same year. Phillip Morton (Fire Down Below) worked on the script, and Sam Hamm was rewriting it in 1998. The following year Raja Gosnell signed on as director. "I really wanted to do a big action comedy thrill ride like Men in Black", he said, describing it as more comic than X-Men (2000). Producer Avi Arad called the script "the biggest sitcom of all time," which lead to fears that the film would be developed as a campy action-comedy adventure.

Columbus, who was producing, explained the delays were in getting the budget down. "One estimate was as high as $280 million because every time the four characters walk into a scene, it will cost upwards of $100,000", he said. 20th Century Fox felt that production would depend on whether X-Men would be successful at the box office. X-Men producer Ralph Winter joined the project in April 2000, and the project was announced in August 2000 as being aimed for a July 4, 2001 release date. Gosnell decided to leave the project to film Scooby-Doo. Bring It On director Peyton Reed was announced as his replacement in April 2001. He contemplated making the movie as a period piece set in the early 1960s during the space race when the comic was first published. He sought to cast Renée Zellweger as Sue Storm and George Clooney as Reed Richards. Although he left the project, he managed to use Zellweger and the 1960s setting in his film Down With Love.

In 2004, Tim Story was hired to direct, with Story being attracted to the aspect of the Fantastic Four being a family "who don't always get along." Fantastic Four started its production in August 2004 in Vancouver, and original filming ended in December, until Fox ordered additional scenes. The reshooting carried on until May 2005. The film was released on July 8, 2005.

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