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