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Days before Fantastic Four opened, director Josh Trank sent an email to some members of the cast and crew to say he was proud of the film, which, he wrote, was “better than 99 percent of the comic-book movies ever made.”

“I don’t think so,” responded one castmember.

Maybe if Trank had left it at that, Hollywood insiders and fan websites could have played their own parlor games as to who was at fault for the film’s colossal failure and Fantastic Four would have faded into the history books as did John Carter and other bombs before it. (The $122 million-budgeted film opened to just $25.7 million in the U.S. and $34 million abroad, far below even the most cautious predictions.)

But Trank, 31, could not resist tweeting on Aug. 6, as the movie was hitting theaters, that he had made “a fantastic version” of the film that audiences would “probably never see.” Though Trank quickly deleted the tweet, his public disavowal of the film at such a key moment enraged 20th Century Fox executives and stirred a pot that had begun to bubble when the director was dropped by Lucasfilm from a Star Wars stand-alone film at the end of April, prompting THR to report that one of the causes was his erratic behavior on Fantastic Four. Now, insiders on the film say the situation was worse than previously revealed, and Trank has enlisted pit-bull lawyer Marty Singer to advocate on his behalf. And so the game of blame is underway.

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