Max Landis’ thoughtful take on Fantastic Four, how Hollywood works

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Sep 11, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT (Updated)

If there’s anyone who has a unique angle on the fiasco that is Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four, it’s his former collaborator, Max Landis. So, what does Landis make of this whole mess?

Landis, who wrote the script for Trank’s breakout sci-fi hit Chronicle, opened up with a lengthy post about filmmaking and the massive backlash aimed (mostly) at Trank these days for his role in butchering Marvel’s First Family. For Landis, the Fantastic mess seems like an ugly marriage of a filmmaker used to having freedom, and a studio wanting to keep a tight leash on what it (rightfully) views as a potentially lucrative franchise.

We’ve already heard the situation is certainly more complicated than that, with studio interference and reports of Trank’s erratic behavior. If both sides had their way, it might’ve led to a more cohesive project, but as it stands, this will remain a cautionary tale for years to come.

Here’s Landis's take on the whole thing:

"HEY, it's 1 AM. You know what, f--k it. Let's be real here.

Chronicle was an incredibly rare and easy ride. I loved writing the script. I enjoyed our producer, John Davis, and our exec, Steve. I also loved collaborating with Josh, who I think is brilliant, and whose ideas inspired my script. I fought hard for him to direct. But Chronicle was a complete fluke. We had so much control because the movie was, in relation to other movies that year, TINY. Some holes opened up in Fox's slate and Chronicle was cheap and unique, so they were kind enough to make it. Only took 6 months.

At the time, I was like "THIS IS F--KING INCREDIBLE I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING." I'd sold scripts, but it was my first green light. Josh, who'd been for-hire editor and whose only experience behind the camera had been a web series, was a smart, fun collaborator.

During the shooting of the film, I had almost no input, but I was lucky in that the studio and Josh stuck astonishingly tight to my script. But again, even this is a fluke. It was an original idea, a dark character movie with a first time director. Fluke. Freak of nature. But I didn't know that and I'm sure Josh didn't know that either. In the five years since I sold Chronicle, I've learned the hard way.

You take huge hits in this industry, creatively, but that's only after you've been given the opportunity to take huge swings, which is rare. A movie like Fantastic Four, an assignment with a lot riding on it, was always going to have a tremendous amount of cooks in the kitchen. People always ask me when I'm gonna write a superhero movie. I have. I've gotten those jobs. They're very intense and stressful.

As a writer, I've been lucky to work on many, many projects, and seen how different and how hard each road can be, for five and a half years. Josh didn't get that chance, and his second major project, after one with total freedom, was one with intense oversight. So I don't think anyone's wrong or right, necessarily, and I don't imagine anyone cares about my opinion. But I do think it's important to say that if you're not prepared going in to not FIGHT like hell, but WORK like hell, it's gonna get ugly.

No one is trying to make a bad movie. This job is only very occasionally romantic. Don't let it own you, try not to let it hurt you. Because sometimes it's so much f--king fun. But it's still a job.”

Landis makes some good points, and as someone who has worked with Trank in the past, brings a perspective that’s hard to come by in all the hot takes and think pieces out there. What do you think? Does Landis have it figured out?

(Via Dark Horizons)