Before we talk about Spider-Man i’d like to give people a little reminder on rights. The reason 20th Century Fox continue to churn out X-Men films and the reason the Spider-Man franchise will continue is because Marvel will have an opportunity to re-claim the rights if the studios don’t put them into use (each deal varies, but it’s usually 4/5 years with no active development). Warner Bros. is at risk from losing the Superman rights if it doesn’t get a movie in development over the next few years. With the rights in mind, lets look at the recent news that Sony will be rebooting Spider-Man in 2012.
There was talk of Sony rebooting the franchise before Spider-Man 4 was announced. This was before Sam Raimi signed on to direct and Tobey came onboard, but their return put those plans on the back burner. James Vanderbilt was the first writer to start work on the script, however David Lindsay-Abaire was then hired to do re-writes (or possibly start from scratch). In July Gary Ross was brought in to do further re-writes, which didn’t look very good at all. Something was obviously not working if three writers were needed to do revisions of the script.
With hindsight the news in August that James Vanderbilt had been hired by Sony to write Spider-Man 5 & 6 should have got a bit more attention, however as Spider-Man 4 was developing nobody though much of it. According to the report Vanderbilt’s script would be the blueprint for a franchise reboot should Maguire, Raimi and Dunst choose not to return. Looking back it seems Sony were developing a ‘Plan B’ in case Spider-Man 4 didn’t work out. With the continued re-writes and Raimi signing on to direct World of Warcraft things weren’t certain.
There are a few reasons why Spider-Man 4 didn’t work out. It was made public that Raimi wasn’t happy with the script, and filming was delayed. Rumor has it that the script contained ‘The Vultress’ who Anne Hathaway was in talk to play. The character would have borrowed elements from Black Cat, however she would have been the daughter of The Vulture, who John Malkovich would have played. There were also rumors that Peter Parker and Mary Jane would have had a baby. This hasn’t been confirmed, however there was a casting call asking for a 2 year old toddler with red hair.
During the big meeting this week to decide the fate of Spider-Man 4 Sony went into it knowing that they have a script for a reboot ready and waiting. They knew they would reboot the franchise at some point in the future anyway as Tobey and Raimi wouldn’t be around forever. The benefit of having a reboot with a cheaper cast and lower budget was probably more appealing to them than paying the fees Maguire and Dunst would have received with a $250 million+ budget. They asked Raimi if he could make the film for summer 2011, he said he couldn’t keep the film’s creative integrity with that schedule, so it was scrapped and Plan B came into function.
Since the announcement that the reboot would be happening and we would be seeing it in 2012 there have been a few indications as to where it might go. Sony tweeted that Peter Parker would be heading back to high school, which spawned suggestions that Sony were going to aim for the Twilight/teen market. Now EW are saying that “the series will place Peter Parker in a more contemporary setting, as a teenager battling today’s issues” and that Sony are “interested in a more gritty, contemporary redo of the series”. This reboot could very well be what Batman Begins was to the Batman franchise, but I do think it is rather soon to have a reboot. However it goes back to the rights issue. Sony don’t want to let them slip away so a reboot is their only option.
As for Raimi, there is talk he will now be turning his attention to World of Warcraft, which i’m quite looking forward too. Raimi has wanted to get his hands on a fantasy film for a while, and it has the word ‘epic’ written all over it.
In the meantime, Sony said they would be releasing more information about the Spider-Man reboot in the near future. They need to hire a director, if they haven’t been talking to some already, and they of course need to find a young teenage male actor to play Peter Parker 2.0. Any suggestions?