As of this writing, Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four has made $25.6 million. Improbably, that’s less than half of either of the previous big-budget Fantastic Four movies’ opening weekend totals, and both of those films are widely disliked by comics fan and cinephiles alike. There’s a chance Trank’s FF could wind up grossing less in theaters than Blade: Trinity, or even Trank’s own surprise debut hit, Chronicle (which cost about a tenth of his follow-up). In Hollywood parlance, those are ungood numbers. In most cases, they would almost mean certain doom (har dee har har) for any chance of a sequel.

But the Fantastic Four is not most cases. Drew McWeeny over at HitFix says that despite the new film’s disastrous box-office showing, Fox is still serious about a Fantastic Four sequel:

 

It may not make that original 2017 date, but they’re definitely planning to make [Fantastic Four 2]. The next filmmaker in is going to start from a difficult position, and they're going to have to work hard to create their own movie while starting with some of Trank's choices intact. For better or worse, Trank was given room to define these characters, and his signature will remain on the next film no matter who writes and directs it. The next movie will be a reaction to this one.

 

Fox is in a tough spot here. They just rebooted Fantastic Four, so they couldn’t reboot it again even if they wanted to (and given the mess they made of things, they might). Plus, audiences have indicated with their dollars (or lack thereof) that they’re not particularly interested in another FF origin story. And Fox can’t wait too long to let the memory of this debacle fade. These licensed comics properties are like sharks; if they don’t continually move forward, they die (or the rights revert back to Marvel).

Their only choice is a sequel — albeit one that you have to assume would bear little resemblance to this movie beyond its cast (which is great, if almost completely wasted in this FF). I’d expect the model to be something like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, where the studio kept their star (Nicolas Cage) but completely changed their approach to the character from the first movie (which was cartoony and campy) to the second (which was grungier and weirder).

A Fantastic Four movie with Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Jamie Bell, and Kate Mara could be great; it’s just that this particular Fantastic Four movie was not. (And, yes, that is the understatement of the century.) Would I watch that same cast in a Fantastic Four 2? Absolutely.