On Friday, we reported that director Josh Trank had departed the ‘Star Wars’ franchise. The man behind fledgling super hero film ‘Chronicle’ and the upcoming ‘Fantastic Four’ relaunch issued the statement, “After a year of having the incredible honor of developing with the wonderful and talented people at Lucasfilm, I’m making a personal decision to move forward on a different path.” That different path, Trank intimated, was “original creative opportunities.” This wouldn’t be surprising, since the director started on lower budget indie films and his foray into a big budget franchise, ‘Fantastic Four’ has been rocky from the start, with insiders hinting that Trank may have been in over his head grappling with such a major release. Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising that Trank wanted to step off another huge tent pole film in favor of smaller projects. Trank closed his statement with, “I want to thank … everyone at Lucasfilm and Disney for the amazing opportunity to have been a part of this. May the Force be with you all.”
Sounds amicable enough.
But it seems as if this was good ol’ spin. It seems Lucasfilm has been doubting Trank’s ability to drive this important installment in the franchise. Trank was attached to the second “spin-off” film, following next winter’s ‘Rogue One,’ but there have already been clues that this partnership was in trouble. Trank was scheduled to appear at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim last month, but failed to show up due to “illness.” Now insiders are stating that Trank was asked not to appear, as the studio was second guessing their directorial selection.
A lot of this stems from the embattled ‘Fantastic Four.’ Trank’s behavior on the set was described as “erratic” and “isolated” and insiders have stated that Trank didn’t have a strong enough handle on the project, with one person revealing “If you’ve got someone who can’t answer questions or who isn’t sure or is in hiding, that’s not good.” There were even reports of possible substance abuse that impaired Trank’s job performance.
Even now, just three months before the high-stakes franchise reboot is set to hit theaters, Trank and several higher-ups are struggling to film re-shoots. Producers Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker have had to step in to help pull the film together in time for its August 7th release date. Complicating this is that Kinberg and Parker are also producing the now-shooting ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ and most of the rising young cast has been forced to move on to other projects to which they had already been attached before ‘Fantastic Four.’ The producers have also brought in editor Stephen Rivkin (‘Avatar’) to complete the final cut of the film, replacing Trank’s ‘Chronicle’ collaborator Elliot Greenberg. Thus everyone involved is scrambling to get this film into shape.
Trank wowed critics and movie audiences with ‘Chronicle,’ a deconstruction of superhero tropes. His talent as a director is there, but he went from a big fish in a small pond to swimming with sharks on a big budget, high profile flick like ‘Fantastic Four’ and the director seems to have floundered. Trank may need to tackle a few major studio films with less at stake before jumping to helming major franchise projects like these.
At this point, it’s unclear how much of Trank’s vision will be retained for the new ‘Star Wars’ spin-off. Lucasfilm is now seeking a replacement, who may come with his or her own ideas.
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Source: The Hollywood Reporter