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But he did. And with his comeback film, the Tom Hardy-starring biopic Capone, about to hit video on demand next week, the Chronicle helmer is now telling his side of the story about his blockbuster failure in a long profile with Polygon.
In his most extensive comments yet on Fantastic Four, the 36-year-old Trank came clean about the stressful situation he found himself in during production, especially over the hoopla from a subset of fans upset over his casting African-American actor Michael B. Jordan to play Johnny Storm. He also revealed his thoughts on the humiliation of 20th Century Fox replacing him during reshoots with the film's writer and producer.
And lastly, he divulged how the controversy swirling around the film essentially caused him to lose out on his dream job directing a Boba Fett Star Wars standalone movie.
Regarding the uproar over Jordan's casting, which he noted Marvel legend Stan Lee enthusiastically endorsed, Trank revealed the ordeal made him fear for his safety, to the point where he kept a gun on the nightstand.
“I was getting threats on IMDb message boards saying they were going to shoot me,” he said. "I was so f---ing paranoid during that shoot. If someone came into my house, I would have ended their f---ing life. When you’re in a head space where people want to get you, you think, ‘I’m going to defend myself.'"
After being hailed at age 28 as the second coming of Steven Spielberg — a budding auteur who knew how to generate boffo box office following Chronicle's success — Trank saw his authority as director essentially undercut, if not stripped, entirely during re-shoots, which were supervised by the film's screenwriter-producer Simon Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker.
"It was like being castrated," Trank confessed. "You’re standing there, and you’re basically watching producers blocking out scenes, five minutes ahead of when you get there, having [editors hired] by the studio deciding the sequence of shots that are going to construct whatever is going on, and what it is that they need. And then, because they know you’re being nice, they’ll sort of be nice to you by saying, 'Well, does that sound good?' You can say yes or no."
Trank said 'yes' ultimately, and went with the flow.
But he suffered even more humiliation after Fox brought in editor Stephen Rivkin, whose credits include Avatar and Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean movies, to shape Fantastic Four to the studio's liking, which was lighter than the "morose" cut Trank turned in. As he told Polygon, while there were a few scenes he dug, such as Doctor Doom blowing up security guards' heads while walking down a hallway, he felt Rivkin's creative choices were cheesy.
"Rivkin ultimately chose different takes for every single scene in the movie, and became 'the de facto director,'" Trank said, while not exactly being complimentary regarding the editor's shot selection. "I maybe saw a couple of shots that really resonated."
As for the Fantastic Four fiasco causing him to lose Star Wars, Trank admitted the on set turmoil got back to Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy, enough to make her reconsider the deal they had for the spinoff. Not long after, he bowed out of 2015's Star Wars Celebration convention, claiming he had the flu, and then bowed out of the movie.
"I quit because I knew I was going to be fired if I didn’t quit," he said.
The trades would later report that he was fired from the project.
But that wasn't enough to keep Trank down and out, as you can see when Capone hits video on demand next week.