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Wednesday July 30, 2003


All is not well in comic book world. Director Peyton Reed has no place on 20th Century Fox's big-screen adaptation of Marvel Comics' "Fantastic Four."

It is also understood that writer Mark Frost is at work on the screenplay, which follows the adventures of four astronauts who develop superpowers after their spaceship is exposed to cosmic radiation.

The foursome -- Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, the Human Torch and the Thing -- team to fight Doctor Doom. Reed worked with Frost on David Lynch's TV masterpiece Twin Peaks.

The Fantastic Four concerns an experimental space voyage that goes awry and the four nauts are changed into super beings by cosmic rays. Coincidentally one is named Reed Richards, inventor and leader of the group who gains the ability to stretch his body, and takes the name, Mr. Fantastic.

His girlfriend, Sue Storm, gains the ability to turn invisible and create force fields, calling herself the Invisible Woman. Her younger brother Johnny Storm gains the ability to control fire, including covering his own body with flame, becoming the Human Torch. Pilot Ben Grimm is turned into a super-strong rock creature calling himself Thing. Together, they use their unique powers to explore the strange aspects of the world, and to foil the evil plans of Doctor Doom.

Reed and Fox, who recently teamed on the Renee Zellweger/Ewan McGregor romantic comedy "Down With Love," are parting ways over "creative differences," according to a studio spokesperson. Reed signed on to develop and direct the project more than two years ago.

Despite having no director, Fox is sticking to a December 2004 release date for the tentpole project, the studio confirmed. Fox executives and the producers, which include Marvel Studios and 1492 Pictures, have a shortlist of directors who are under active consideration to replace Reed, sources said.

After toiling in the TV world for nearly a decade, Reed moved his attention toward the big screen, gaining notice and his first major hit with Universal Pictures' "Bring It On" in 2000.

"Down With Love," however, didn't bring on as big a following, finishing its run earlier this year with just north of $20 million. "Fantastic Four" was scheduled to be his next assignment.

"This movie will be fantastic."

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