Roger Corman’s 1994 Fantastic Four movie is an interesting film, but even more interesting is the story behind it.
Some say it represents the worst in Hollywood backroom dealings, and that the producers never intended it to be released but didn’t tell this to the cast and crew. Check out THIRD MILLENNIUM Entertainment for a compilation of some of the statements, myths and rumors that have circulated about the film over the years.
Here are a few highlights…
Roger Corman: “Bernd Eichinger, the German producer, had the rights to The Fantastic Four and he was going to make it on about a $40 million budget but couldn’t raise the money and his option was going to run out in three months. If he didn’t start the picture, he would lose his option. So he came to me and said, “I didn’t get my $40 million. How much can you cut this budget to and let’s make it together at your studio.” So we figured out a budget and we cut it from $40 million to $1.4 million and made it.
Indeed, Eichinger picked the right man for the job as Corman was a filmmaker renowned for his thrift. A director who would often shoot two movies simultaneously and in break-neck speeds. He once shot an entire feature, Little Shop of Horrors, in under three days – on a bet.
Roger Corman: “We were going to distribute it but he had a clause in his contract that he could buy me out at a rather substantial profit for me anytime up to ninety days after the picture was completed. During that time he raised his $40 million. He bought the picture out from me and he’s making it for Fox. I was reasonably happy because I made a profit, but I didn’t get a chance to distribute the film because I wanted to see how that type of comic book movie fared. At that time, we were making pictures at $500K to $1 million. For $1.4 million I had what I felt was a bigger film and wanted to see how it performed. I never got the chance to try the experiment.”
The interesting point here is Eichinger was unable to secure the capital needed ($40M) to produce a large-scale production yet after the film was made, he somehow managed to acquire the funding. This special clause Corman comments on makes one begin to wonder if this film was sabotaged from the get-go. Indeed if it was, no one from the cast or crew, including Corman, seemed to be in-the-loop. In a recent LA Magazine article titled “Fantastic Faux,” Eichinger rejects the rumored statement that the film was never intended to be released.
“No, that’s not true,” comments Eichinger. “It was definitely not our intention to make a B movie, that’s for sure, but when the movie was there, we wanted to release it.”
He then continues, “…Avi (Arad) calls me up and says, ‘Listen, I think what you did was great. It shows your enthusiasm for the movie and the property. I understand that you have invested so-and-so much and Roger has invested so-and-so much. Let’s do a deal.’ Because he really didn’t like the idea that a small movie was coming out and maybe ruining the franchise. So he says to me that he wants to give me back the money that we spent on the movie and that we should not release it.”
Check out the Fantastic Four cast and crew reunion at a St. Louis. Missouri Pop culture Convention for more interesting tales about the making of this lost comic book film.