Next weekend, 20th Century Fox will see whether moviegoers are ready to welcome back the Fantastic Four—eight years after two forgettable films brought to life Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch and The Thing.
However, a few controversial casting decisions for the film have left some fans fearing the worst, with a vocal contingent even vowing to boycott the movie altogether—raising the possibility that the film could fall short at a time when demand for comic book movies has never been stronger.
Marvel's super-powered quartet is the latest comic book property to undergo a big-screen makeover. Box-office watchers have come to expect huge hauls after a series of superhero flicks became breakout hits. Yet some analysts say measuring "Fantastic Four" by those standards risks overlooking Fox's long-standing and mostly successful strategy.
"Fox is a different kind of studio than most other studios. They don't tend to swing for the fences. They don't make the gigantic big bets, and they don't miss very often," David Bank, a media analyst at RBC Capital Markets told CNBC.
Except for its enormous bet on James Cameron projects like "Avatar," Bank said the studio focuses on low-risk, medium-reward projects, and as a result, it boasts industry-leading profit margins. Success for "Fantastic Four" might look like a roughly $125 million U.S. box-office haul, and about a $350 million global total, he said.
A representative for Fox did not immediately return a request for comment from CNBC.
According to BoxOffice.com, the movie is tracking for a $46 million U.S. opening, down from its earlier estimate of $50 million.
"We're mainly concerned with its middling social media buzz compared to similar films, as well as potential impact from 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation's' word of mouth," Shawn Robbins, assistant editor BoxOffice Media, told CNBC in an email.
That estimate lies at the low end of the scale for the first installment in a new superhero franchise, but it's by no means an outlier.
If the reported production budget of $120 million is accurate, "Fantastic Four" would also be relatively economical, a formula that paid off with Fox's "The Wolverine" and "X-Men: First Class."