Josh Trank got the entire internet talking a few days ago when he sent a tweet renouncing the theatrical version of the latest Fantastic Four movie.
But as sad and enraging as his message was, the most alarming part is that he’s not even the first Hollywood director to resent studious for their indifference to the director’s vision.
Right before the release of Fantastic Four, Trank wrote that “A year ago I had a fantastic version of this [movie]. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though”.
Indeed, the filmmaker knew what he was talking about. Once the movie hit theaters, negative reviews flooded the internet. Critics hated it, fans hated it, and the studio lost a lot of money.
Several of his Twitter posts inform that he had an entirely different version of the movie that he wanted to share with audiences, and everyone who’s ever watched a director’s cut or an extended version of a scene knows exactly what an immense difference a few extra seconds can make.
But it seems that the studio did not share Trank’s vision, interfered with what he wanted to put out into the universe and ruined the movie for everyone as a direct result.
What’s even more remarkable (not in a good way) is that you don’t even have to go as far as David Lynch to find other directors who ended up disowning their own movies and regretting ever collaborating with a major Hollywood studio.
Earlier this year, in February, David O. Russell had the exact same reaction to what the studio did to his movie, Accidental Love. This was an even more peculiar case as Russell’s movie spent eight (8) years in limbo before the studio finally decided to release it to the public.
Some directors who go through this experience learn to negotiate contracts so that their artistic vision never gets compromised again. The above mentioned David Lynch is one such filmmaker. He disowned Aliens 3 after the studio butchered it, and found a whole new level of commitment to his artistic vision.
Lynch also had the same unfortunate experience earlier in life, with Dune, when he not only disowned the movie, but distanced himself so much from the project that he ended up using a popular industry pseudonym (Alan Smithee) on several cuts.
The pseudonym was created back in 1968 by the Directors Guild of America (DGA) so that filmmakers who’ve had their vision butchered by the studio can legally protect themselves from being associated with a product that they’re not responsible for.
Perhaps this is also a reason why major talents are fleeing to TV shows. Many Hollywood actors and directors have joined TV shows in recent years.
David Slade, Vincenzo Natali, Neil Marshall, Frank Darabont, Guillermo del Toro, and Peter Weller have all shot episodes of Hannibal, Constantine, The Walking Dead, The Strain and Sons of Anarchy in recent years, while Mads Mikkelsen, Andrew Lincoln, Ron Perlman, Peter Weller (yes, I’m mentioning him twice), Corey Stoll and Kevin Durand have starred in them.
Elijah Wood starred in Wilfred a few years ago, Rosario Dawson is currently on Daredevil, Bradley Cooper will premier a TV show based on his movie Limitless later this year, and Michael Bay is producing Black Sails.
And these are just a handful of names off the top of my head.
It’s worth mentioning that Hollywood does have a few directors who fall on the other side of the line. Woody Allen is famous for not being able to understand what audiences love about some of his best movies – Hannah And Her Sisters, Manhattan, and Annie Hall.
But most directors generally disown movies because of how studios decide to change them.