Strate­giz­ing for ‘Fan­tas­tic Four’

Los Angeles Times - - AT THE MOVIES - By Steven Zeitchik steve.zeitchik@la­

In Au­gust, Fox will re­lease “Fan­tas­tic Four” with Miles Teller, Kate Mara and a host of other young stars in the su­per­heroic group. That devel­op­ment is, depend­ing on your world view, cause for great ex­cite­ment or cause for a great yawn.

A re­port sur­faced this week that Fox has pulled the pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tions of the movie — the Chris Evans-Jes­sica Alba one, the one with the star of “The Shield” do­ing some clob­berin’ — from iTunes and Ama­zon. Ap­par­ently, says the Hol­ly­wood Re­porter, ex­ecs don’t want view­ers mud­dy­ing up their plea­sures of view­ing this movie with mem­o­ries of the pre­vi­ous ones.

That older ti­tles might con­fuse the au­di­ence is un­der­stand­able. It has only been eight years since a “Fan­tas­tic Four” movie came out with a dif­fer­ent set of ac­tors.

But the Fox dig­i­tal move also high­lights a f law — in­deed, a big flaw — in Hol­ly­wood re­boot think­ing.

The ra­tio­nale for re­boots, at bot­tom, has been that be­cause we al­ready know th­ese prop­er­ties, a lot of the sell­ing work has al­ready been done. Es­sen­tially, it’s a mar­ket­ing head start pro­vided by mem­ory. But mem­ory can work against us, or them, too. If we re­mem­ber the ear­lier ver­sions, we can also re­mem­ber that we liked them and thus don’t like this as much (af­ter we see the movie), or re­mem­ber that we didn’t like them and not see the movie in the first place. (Given how most peo­ple felt about the ear­lier “Fan­tas­tic Four” movies, that lat­ter op­tion is more likely, but ei­ther way. ...)

Hol­ly­wood th­ese days is all about eras­ing what it just put out in fa­vor of some­thing newer, bet­ter and shinier. But the dig­i­tal world and its ref lex­ive need for ar­chiv­ing is about mak­ing sure noth­ing is ever forgotten or un­avail­able. And those two come into con­flict.

In fact, this can all veer into the para­dox­i­cal when you re­al­ize that it’s an on-de­mand dig­i­tal cul­ture that drives stu­dios to green­light many of th­ese movies in the first place. Given Fox’s re­cent move, the stu­dios’ pitch will be clear. Come see the new movie, which you should see be­cause it evokes thoughts of the old movie. Just don’t think about the old one so hard that you don’t want to see this one.

Chris Pizzello Invision / AP

THE CAST for this Au­gust’s “Fan­tas­tic Four,” Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jor­dan and Miles Teller.

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