Where on the Shelf Is...The Fantastic Four?
Welcome to "Where on the Shelf Is..." In this column, I look at great TV shows and movies that have never been on DVD and/or Blu-ray. For your pleasure and out of all of our frustrations, this column examines the Where, When and, of course, WHY?! of these non-releases.
Up this week is...THE FANTASTIC FOUR
What Is It?:
Most of us acknowledge that there are two bad FANTASTIC FOUR movies. But what most of us may have forgotten is that there are actually three bad FANTASTIC FOUR movies.
In the 1980s, Neue Constantin studio head Bernd Eichinger acquired the rights to Marvel's Fantastic Four. With the deal set to expire at the end of 1992, Eichinger quickly scooped up music video director Oley Sassone, B-movie legend Roger Corman (DEATH RACE 2000, ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL and, of course, THE SAGA OF THE VIKING WOMEN AND THEIR VOYAGE TO THE WATERS OF THE GREAT SEA SERPENT) and a $1 million budget, and rushed a 20-some-odd-day shoot.
The studio teased the film the following year, promising comic book fans they would see The Thing & company battle Dr. Doom in 1994.
Where Is It?:
The Thing, Mister Fantastic, the Human Torch, and the Invisible Woman didn't make it to theaters that January. Or any other January. Or any other month. Nearly two decades after its intended release, THE FANTASTIC FOUR has never been made available to the public.
Not along after it was shelved, word got around that THE FANTASTIC FOUR was never even intended for wide release and that Eichinger only made the movie when he did to retain the rights (as per the contractual agreement with Marvel). Eichinger debunked this, stating, "When the movie was there, we wanted to release it."
The blame then goes to Marvel suit Avi Arad, who purchased the rights to Sassone's movie and "ordered all prints destroyed," unaware that the film's prestige would eventually help land Rebecca "Susan Storm" Staab a role on DIAGNOSIS MURDER…twice!
Marvel later resold the property to Fox.
When Will We See It?:
Considering Fox's success with the modern FANTASTIC FOUR movies (which collectively grossed more than $600 million worldwide), it's extremely unlikely they would give up their ownership or purchase '94's version for release, even with the reboot scheduled for 2015.
In their mind, doing so would taint the brand. They may as well give H.E.R.B.I.E. his own spin-off.
But is there any damage to be done, really, in putting it out on DVD? Other early, low-budget and just plain awful comic book adaptations have made their way to home video: 1989's THE PUNISHER (starring Dolph Lundgren) is out on DVD, 1990's CAPTAIN AMERICA is getting the Blu-ray treatment this May and 1984's SUPERGIRL has been on home video probably too many times.
Where Can We See It?:
Avi Arad clearly didn't send the film canisters to the incinerator or "the trash someplace" as promised, as THE FANTASTIC FOUR is readily available all over the web, from eBay and YouTube to torrent sites and online retailers.
Is one of your favorite movies or TV shows not available on DVD or Blu-ray? Leave your suggestions below or shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.