Fantastic Four Falling Flat Before Release

Things had been looking up for the rebooted Fantastic Four franchise. On paper, it looked like a project that couldn’t fail. Chronicle director Josh Trank, X-Men: Days of Future Past scribe Simon Kinberg, a cast of talented up-and-comers including Miles Teller, Kate Mara, and Michael B. Jordan — all signaled good things. Despite rumors of trouble on the set and a sour taste left from previous iterations, trailers had the effect of warming fans to the new film.

More recently, however, there have been troubling signs that Fox has lost confidence in their product. There have been few early screenings for critics. There will be no red carpet premiere. Promotion has been relatively muted.

The first reviews have begun to hit, and they’re not encouraging. At the time of this writing, the film holds a ghastly 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That will likely rise as more reviews come in. But the current score rests with 5 out of 6 critics saying “don’t bother.” Variety’s Brian Lowry writes, “Fox’s stab at reviving one of its inherited Marvel properties feels less like a blockbuster for this age of comics-oriented tentpoles than it does another also-ran — not an embarrassment, but an experiment that didn’t gel.”

Fantastic Four opens in theaters this Friday.