Dear 20th Century Fox:
Hope this letter finds you well as you gear up for the release later this month of X-Men: Apocalypse. You (the studio) have spent a lot of time and effort righting the X-ship after the twin failures of X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and while fans may disagree over their relative merits, there's no question that X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Wolverine and Deadpool have gone a long way toward making things better.
And then there's Fantastic Four.
Listen, we know you tried. After the mistakes made with the horrible 2005 Fantastic Four and its slightly better but still wretched sequel, 2007's Rise of the Silver Surfer, we understand that you wanted to reboot the franchise last year with a completely different tone, cast and aesthetic. We get it. But the truth is that plenty of mistakes were made with that movie as well, errors that point toward not just a clear lack of vision regarding the property, but a fundamental misunderstanding of the source material itself.
But you know what? The past is the past. Those three movies exist, but hopefully they'll be forgotten and we can all move on. And the best way for Fox to move on now is to do the one thing that makes the most sense: give the Fantastic Four back to Marvel Studios.
You saw what a great job Marvel did when Sony allowed them to introduce Spidey into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With just about 20 minutes or so of screentime in Captain America: Civil War, Marvel created a Peter Parker and a Spider-Man that are perhaps the truest version of the character yet, arguably letting him steal the show from heavyweights like Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. With this one mini-reboot, Marvel and Sony have all but washed away the bad taste left behind by the two Amazing Spider-Man movies and have primed fans for Spider-Man: Homecoming (although I still don't know about that title).
If you can't see what a great move that was on its own terms, here are four reasons why Fox should let Marvel's First Family go home:
1) It's not worth your money or effort anymore: The three Fantastic Four films have been barely profitable -- a total of $787 million in worldwide box office against combined budgets of $350 million (remember, films must gross at least twice their budget to approach profitability) -- and the trend has been downward with each one, culminating in the disaster of last year's Josh Trank-directed film. With the brand heavily damaged, there's no financial incentive for Fox to spend any more time, labor or money on its own to make another one.
2) And yet you can still make money on it: A deal with Marvel can go many ways. At the most basic level, you can let the rights lapse and revert back to them and wash your hands of the whole thing. But if you can't stand the idea of Marvel potentially turning the franchise around and raking in big bucks as a result, cut a deal. It can be similar to the one that Marvel and Sony did -- Sony still puts up the money and handles distribution, while Marvel has creative control and is allowed to cross Spidey into the MCU -- or it can be tweaked. We'll leave that to the lawyers, but there can be financial incentives for Fox to give the property back under certain conditions.
3) You can concentrate on your other Marvel franchises: Fox still has the X-Men and all its related properties, like Deadpool, Gambit, New Mutants and so on. The X-Universe alone is big enough in theory to sustain a lot of films. But we're a little worried about X-Men: Apocalypse (early reviews are not great), Gambit seems to be in trouble, and Deadpool 2 needs to be handled just right. That's already a lot on Fox's superhero plate -- so let someone else worry about the Four and getting them back on track.
4) It will make you look great to the fans: Fox has not had the greatest relationship with Marvel fans, thanks mainly to the Fantastic Four plus those X-Men miscues we mentioned earlier. Look at the great PR that Sony got in the wake of making the Spider-Man deal with Marvel -- it's like the last three Spider-Man movies were instantly forgiven. While no one should ever think this is about anything but business and money to the suits in the corporate offices, the perception was that Sony cared enough to do the one thing once thought unthinkable to save its ailing crown jewel -- and make fans incredibly excited in the process. Just think of all the accolades you would get for doing the same thing with the Fantastic Four.
5) Crossover potential: The fun doesn't have to end with the Four going back to Marvel and interacting with their characters. If you're feeling really good, you can keep doing little character swaps with Marvel and make this even more exciting for the fans. If the Fantastic Four takes off again, why not consider collaborating on a Avengers vs. X-Men movie? Aren't any of these ideas basically just a license to print money?
For all the above reasons, sending Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny back home where they belong is the decision that makes the most sense for you. We know there are huge egos, outsized ideas of pride and puffed-out chests involved -- this is Hollywood, after all, where the egos are as huge as the soundstages -- but is it really worth leaving all that money and goodwill on the table?
So c'mon, Fox. Do the right thing. And if even Marvel can't fix the Fantastic Four, at least you can say you tried everything.
Your friends at Blastr