According to a Reddit user, 20th Century Fox has reached out to people in his community to alert them to the fact that his apartment building is being considered as an exterior location for use in the upcoming Fantastic 4 film from Chronicle director Josh Trank. Shooting, they say, would begin in March 2014.
But maybe not. Other Reddit users were quick to point out that the letter could be a scam from somebody attempting to gain access to the property.
"Hey sorry to do the standard Reddit bubble burst, but I'm in the industry and this just isn't how scouting is done," another user responded shortly after the purported request was posted. "It is, however, a common house robbing technique."
Other users disputed this, including some who also claimed to work in the film industry, but a number of other things stuck out at users as warning flags in the original letter.
They point to a number of typos and strange formatting issues that seem unlikely to have gotten past somebody working on behalf of a major motion picture studio; if something like this is probably a form letter, they note, wouldn't that form letter have been copy-edited the first time out of the gate? Besides typos, things like capitalizing the phrase "motion picture" seems an unlikely choice for Fox--and thus far, promotional materials and press coverage have referred to the film as "Fantastic Four," not "Fantastic 4." The first pair of films used the numeral instead of the word and there had been a sense among the entertainment press that not doing so would give them an easy way to differentiate the two franchises. The letter uses "Fantastic 4" instead.
Interestingly, yesterday's release of the first new artwork from James Robinson and Leonard Kirk's high-profile relaunch of Fantastic Four shows that the new volume of the comic will use the numeral 4 instead of the word "four" in the title. It's rare that the main Fantastic Four title in Marvel's primary universe using that title treatment (the only other time we can remember offhand was during the Millar/Hitch run), and at the time, we wondered whether it might be connected to a decision made at Fox about the new film.
The signature on the paper is presented as that of Danielle Stiner, a production assistant and second unit crew on movies like The Lone Ranger and 2 Guns. Her IMDb profile currently lists a number of projects in the works for 2014, none of which is Fantastic Four. The telephone numbers on the page are from New Mexico and Baton Rouge and based on the name of the mayor (Kip Holden), Baton Rouge is where the supposed filming would take place. Both New Mexico and Louisiana are states known for their favorable film incentive programs. The phone number for the Film Commission's office given in the form letter is accurate, according to that organization's website. One of the phone numbers for Stiner, which we have blacked out, is listed on Production Hub, a kind of LinkedIn for the film industry. That number, however, is non-working.
We reached out to the office number on the document, which (assuming the person we spoke with identified herself accurately) was indeed affiliated with Fox, but who told us they were surprised this morning by a large number of calls regarding this document. The representative who answered the phone hadn't yet seen the Reddit post and so could not confirm or deny that the document was an internal Fox document. We will update if she responds to a follow-up e-mail that provided her with a link.
Since all of the information on the letter is publicly available via the Internet, it's difficult to fact-check without finding a way to contact that real Stiner and ask her directly--which of course would result in a denial or a no-comment even if it were true, since low-level participants on productions of this size don't talk to the media about things like this. If the document is real, the most perplexing thing would be why they elected to tell strangers that they were going to shoot "Fantastic 4," as opposed to using a fake name (like Thor: The Dark World's Thursday Mourning or Iron Man 3's Caged) or misdirect with a less high-profile project that would be unlikely to get widely circulated online. The secrecy surrounding productions like these is generally taken pretty seriously, and sending out a form letter to members of the community name-dropping a $150 million dollar-plus summer tentpole seems unwise.
Fantastic Four will indeed be filming partially in Louisiana beginning in 2014. The film's release had been set for early 2015 but was recently pushed back to June. The studio reportedly has until fall 2014 to begin filming or they will lose the rights to the characters, which would revert to Marvel Studios.