Featured Attractions

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Un-Fantastic Four

Long before Marvel Studios began its current run of success at the box office and before it became part of The Walt Disney Company, films made from its stable of characters were more often miss than hit. The company didn't actually make the films itself so it had very little control over their content or quality.

After Batman became a huge success in 1989, studios scrambled to find comic book properties that could be optioned for feature length films. Enter the Fantastic Four!

Marvel quickly optioned The Fantastic Four, but put a clause in the contract that a film had to be produced quickly, or else the rights would revert back to Marvel. Legend has it that this came into play in the early 1990's. The production company that held the rights to the film was having issues coming up with a workable script and risked losing the rights to make a film. They then embarked on a strange plan to retain the rights by making a film that would never be seen...

Turning to Z-List producer/director Roger Corman, they budgeted $2,000,000 to make a quickie film that would technically satisfy their contract with Marvel that a film be produced by the deadline. This would let them hold onto the rights with a minimum investment. (As a comparison, the budget for the 1989 version of Batman was reportedly $49,000,000.)

Many stories surround the production; the actors claim they were told that the movie was being made as a pilot for a television show. Roger Corman denies that story and insists that he believed the movie was real and planned for it to get a release. What is known is that the film never got an actual release. (Some say the master print was destroyed by Marvel and no longer exists.) The film does live on in bootleg copies and the clips that exist show a film with hokey, bargain basement effects, bad acting and a non-sensical script.

With Disney's heavy duty home entertainment presence, the film might eventually see the light of day if it still exists. At least, that's what its ardent fans hope. It might seem far-fetched, but if the 1980's sitcom Small Wonder could get a DVD release, why not an (Un) Fantastic Four?