The summer of 2005 is looking eerily similar to the summer of 2015 in regards to a blockbuster from 20th Century Fox. Ten years ago, they were prepping the release of Fantastic Four, written and directed by Tim Story, in hopes of kickstarting a brand new franchise based on some of the most timeless characters from the Marvel Comics Universe. This year, they’re prepping the release of…Fantastic Four. A new blockbuster directed by Josh Trank, with hopes of…well, kickstarting a new iteration of that franchise. Now, though, it looks like the studio is making an effort at revising history to a degree, because they’re doing something that could make it seem like they want you to forget about their first try at adapting Marvel’s “first family.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox has removed both 2005’s Fantastic Four and 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer from a wide array of VOD digital storefronts like Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, and Vudu, all ahead of the release of the new Fantastic Four film hitting theaters in August. From a “close source,” the THR report reads in part,
…the older titles have been removed from digital platforms ahead of the release of the new film, so as not to distract from promotion of the rebooted franchise, which is seeking to establish a different tone than the previous releases. The source says the older titles might cause confusion in the marketplace.
This is certainly unusual behavior, and really the first example of a studio attempting to do this ahead of the rebooted release of a franchise. Warner Bros. certainly never tried to pull any DVD’s of the prior Batman films ahead of the release of Batman Begins, nor did Paramount try to do the same thing with Blu-rays or VOD availability for prior Star Trek films before J.J. Abrams’ first film with the characters came out in 2009. It’s even more unusual because in the past, studios and VOD vendors have actually tried to take advantage of other films in a series by selling them at a discounted price to get the names of the characters in peoples’ minds ahead of the release of a new installment.
While unusual, it may be hard to blame the studio. Both Fantastic Four and Rise of the Silver Surfer hold something of a less prestigious place in the genre of superhero cinema, with the 2005 film garnering only 27% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, while its 2007 sequel did only marginally better with 37%. Still, both films were moderate box office successes, grossing $330 million and $289 million worldwide respectively, but they failed to catch on in the same way as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films or Bryan Singer’s first two X-Men films.
The Fantastic Four reboot hits theaters on August 7th.
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