It's probably the most legendary superhero movie to be filmed but never released.
The year was 1992, and Tim Burton's Batman had ignited a new interest in superhero movies. A producer named Bernd Eichinger had acquired the Fantastic Four film rights from Marvel, and — not unlike 20th Century Fox today, whose Fantastic Four reboot is in theaters today — had a limited time to make a movie before the rights reverted to Marvel. So Eichinger enlisted the help of low-budget filmmaker Roger Corman, hired a cast and crew, and filmed his movie in less than a month.
There was just one problem. The entire production was a lie.
Unbeknownst to the cast and crew, Eichinger's expiring film rights had a stipulation that as long as production was underway by the last day of 1992, the rights would be extended. It didn't take Eichinger and his studio Constantin Films to realize that paying for a rights extention would cost them significantly more than making a low-budget film.
So they hastily put together a production for The Fantastic Four — on a tiny budget said to be in the neighborhood of $1 million — and immediately shelved the whole thing after production wrapped. The cast and crew were devastated, having signed on in good faith, believing that despite its teeny budget and campy nature, this could be a movie that advanced their careers. (Little known fact: Roger Corman didn't actually direct The Fantastic Four despite his name being so closely associated with it. He executive produced it for director Oley Sassone.)
Even now, The Fantastic Four has never been released, though trailers like the one above were shown at conventions. It's said that Marvel executive Avi Arad bought the film and had its negatives destroyed to keep anyone from seeing it, fearing it would have a detrimental effect on the franchise. Bootleg copies have found their way online over the years, but 20+ years later, the flick remains a sore spot for everyone that worked on it.
Enter filmmaker Marty Langford. Having been fascinated by The Fantastic Four since it was first announced, he eventually decided to tell the story of the production. Finding it remarkably easy to access the movie's cast and crew, he conducted extensive interviews for a documentary he titled Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman's Fantastic Four.
Doomed will screen in L.A. on August 13, followed a limited theatrical release, as well as Blu-ray and video on demand, sometime in January 2016.
You can find out more about the documentary at doomedthemovie.com.