Well now, this is one thing that no one saw coming.
Let’s recap: last week, we discovered that Sony was halting production on Spider-Man 4 due to creative differences between studio executives and director Sam Raimi. This was taken as a very bad sign, but star Tobey Maguire assured all that this was only “part of the process” and the movie was still going to happen.
Now, out of nowhere, Deadline Hollywood is reporting exclusively that Sony has actually decided to completely CANCEL Spider-Man 4, and reboot the entire franchise. This means that Raimi, Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, J.K. Simmons, Bruce Campbell, and everyone else involved in the previous movies are no longer involved in any way. This also means that Sony will use a script from James Vanderbilt, who was hired to begin working on drafts for fifth and sixth Spider-Man, to start over with a brand new cast, crew, and look.
Click over to the other side to read the full press release from Sony!
If you’ll recall, Vanderbilt wrote a draft for Spidey 4, but Raimi went out to multiple different writers to rewrite from there. It appears that Sony preferred Vanderbilt’s vision, but didn’t like where Raimi was going. With rumors of the two disputing sides wanting different villains, you can see where this has gone nutty.
Here’s what Sony released:
Culver City, CA (January 11, 2010) — Peter Parker is going back to high school when the next Spider-Man hits theaters in the summer of 2012. Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios announced today they are moving forward with a film based on a script by James Vanderbilt that focuses on a teenager grappling with both contemporary human problems and amazing super-human crises.
The new chapter in the Spider-Man franchise produced by Columbia, Marvel Studios and Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin, will have a new cast and filmmaking team. Spider-Man 4 was to have been released in 2011, but had not yet gone into production.
“A decade ago we set out on this journey with Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire and together we made three Spider-Man films that set a new bar for the genre. When we began, no one ever imagined that we would make history at the box-office and now we have a rare opportunity to make history once again with this franchise. Peter Parker as an ordinary young adult grappling with extraordinary powers has always been the foundation that has made this character so timeless and compelling for generations of fans. We’re very excited about the creative possibilities that come from returning to Peter’s roots and we look forward to working once again with Marvel Studios, Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin on this new beginning,” said Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
“Working on the Spider-Man movies was the experience of a lifetime for me. While we were looking forward to doing a fourth one together, the studio and Marvel have a unique opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction, and I know they will do a terrific job,” said Sam Raimi.
“We have had a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration and friendship with Sam and Tobey and they have given us their best for the better part of the last decade.This is a bittersweet moment for us because while it is hard to imagine Spider-Man in anyone else’s hands, I know that this was a day that was inevitable,” said Matt Tolmach, president of Columbia Pictures, who has served as the studio’s chief production executive since the beginning of the franchise. “Now everything begins anew, and that’s got us all tremendously excited about what comes next. Under the continuing supervision of Avi and Laura, we have a clear vision for the future of Spider-Man and can’t wait to share this exciting new direction with audiences in 2012.”
“Spider-Man will always be an important franchise for Sony Pictures and a fresh start like this is a responsibility that we all take very seriously,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures. “We have always believed that story comes first and story guides the direction of these films and as we move onto the next chapter, we will stay true to that principle and will do so with the highest respect for the source material and the fans and moviegoers who deserve nothing but the best when it comes to bringing these stories and characters to life on the big screen.”
The studio will have more news about Spider-Man in 2012 in the coming weeks as it prepares for production of the film.
While this is shocking news, the question is: is this the best thing to do? We all loved the first two movies, but the third was hated. Had Raimi simply lost control of his creative hold on the characters? Does a reboot this soon make sense and will it translate into an even better Spider-Man adventure? Madness, folks. Cinematic madness!
This is, however, good news for fans of World of Warcraft. While it is not confirmed, I would say that there’s a good chance that that will be Raimi’s next project.