Friday, December 28, 2012

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story — The Fantastic Four's Low-Budget B-Movie

The Fantastic Four (1994) -starring- Alex Hyde-White, Jay Underwood, Rebecca Staab & Michael Bailey Smith.
Directed by Oley Sassone.

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story — Fantastic Four's "Unreleased" Low-Budget B-Movie

"At the newly christened Marvel Films, Avi Arad was as dependent on Hollywood studios as Stan Lee had been. Ron Perelman didn’t want Marvel to get into the risky business of film production; he just wanted to license the properties and make a killing on the merchandise that followed. But by October 1993, Arad was off to a strong start, signing a deal with Twentieth Century Fox to do a live-action X-Men movie.

Then he heard about a low-budget Fantastic Four film that was nearing completion. Months earlier, only three days before producer Bernd Eichinger’s $250,000 option from 1986 was due to expire, Fantastic Four had begun shooting with borrowed cameras on a soundstage in the Venice section of Los Angeles; it was being directed by the son of Vidal Sassoon and produced by Roger Corman. Convinced that the movie would do damage to the brand, Arad called Eichinger and offered to buy back the movie for a couple of million dollars in cash. Then he destroyed every print of the film."

"Unreleased to the general public and infamous for its poor quality within geek circles, this Roger Corman adaptation of the Marvel Comics supergroup is an interesting cult item that ranks up there with the dismal Captain America feature and the cheap Hulk TV movies. The story of the film goes back to the late '80s when Marvel Comics were licensing out their characters for mild profit in a time when the comic industry was failing. 

Enter a German company called Neue Constantin and producer Bernd Eichinger, who held the rights for almost four years before their contract was about to run out. In order to retain the rights to future remake/options and get out of paying a five-million-dollar fee, Neue were forced to put something to film, so they made a deal with Roger Corman's New Horizons studio to make the film quick and on the cheap for $1.5 million.

Once the film was finished, Eichinger bought out Corman's interest, then turned around and sold it to 20th Century Fox, who were then prepping a $50 million adaptation with director Chris Columbus. The film then dove into virtual obscurity, save for the comic convention bootlegs and later through the internet.

The storyline follows the basic framework of the comic, with the exception of a few minor details, including the introduction of a new villain, The Jeweler, who directly becomes responsible for the team's mishap in space and takes liberally from another one of the comic's famous villains, The Mole Man. 

In reference to its underground popularity, Corman now regards it as his most profitable film that never saw release, while Marvel president Avi Arad reportedly burned Fox's only print." Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi

Fantastic Four (2005) -starring- Chris Evans, Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba & Michael Chiklis. Directed by Tim Story.

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