At the butt end of what has been widely reported as a long and bitter stoush between Sony Pictures and director Sam Raimi (pictured left) comes two big pieces of Raimi-related news: firstly, the fo(u)rthcoming Spider-Man sequel, Spider-Man 4, has been scrapped and secondly, the studio has announced that the franchise is to be rebooted without Raimi or star Tobey Maguire.
The fight apparently concerned which villains would appear in Raimi’s ill-fated fourth instalment of the mega popular superhero series.
In January THR wrote:
Raimi wants to have a criminal known as the Vulture act as the primary antagonist in the film while the studio, which dislikes the idea of the winged wrongdoer, is pushing for a romantic sub-plot involving a burglar named the Black Cat in addition to another villain.
Apparently Raimi wanted to snag John Malkovich to play the Vulture, which would have been a slice of casting too delicious to pass up.
But after the sheer dreadfulness of Spider-Man 3 (which reeked of studio interference) and the full throttle ingenuity exhibited in Raimi’s triumphant return to his horror/comedy roots, Drag Me To Hell, the director’s many talents are clearly better placed elsewhere.
Tentatively slated for a 2012 release, the new Spider-Man movie will follow the webslinger’s alter ego, Peter Parker, as he returns to high school.
Is it too soon for a reboot, when Raimi’s first Spider-Man feature was released in 2002? Of course it is. There are plenty of other brand name superheroes left for Hollywood to remorselessly pimp. Or – god forbid – they could even invent a new one.
It’s understandable, however, why Sony want to keep flogging the Spider-Man brand. Raimi’s trilogy is one of the most successful film franchises of all time. All three movies currently reside in the top 20 all-time USA list and the top 30 internationally. Worldwide, Spider-Man 3 chalked up more than US$890 million. Given the monstrous amount of moolah Raimi helped generate for the studio, you’d think it would buy him a modicum of creative control. But you’d be wrong.