Sam Raimi’s involvement in Sony’s Spider-Man franchise is over, an official press release last night confirmed. Sony and Raimi, clearly unable to resolve their much-publicised differences of opinion as to where the fourth film should go, have decided to part ways. Frailties began to emerge recently when Spider-Man 4 was pushed back a few months in order to sort out the script, which Raimi himself said he ‘hated’. Raimi’s desire to cast John Malkovich as The Vulture was also unpopular with the studio and may have been the final nail in the coffin.
The disputes over the direction of the fourth film lead many to predict that the two parties would split, but the big news coming from all this is that not only are Sony planning to continue with Spider-Man without Raimi, but also without Tobey Maguire, and that can mean only one thing: reboot. Co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Amy Pascal issued this statement last night:
‘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.’
So there you have it. Sony Pictures has chosen to recast the role and return to square one. It’s a decision that raises all sorts of questions. Audiences would surely have flocked to Raimi’s Spider-Man 4, but is the prospect of seeing the same superhero rebooted again in so short a time an attractive one, or will fans decided that enough is enough? Another Spider-Man origin story just eight years after Raimi’s attempt just seems too soon. Granted, the prospect of a fourth Raimi-directed Spider-Man lost a lot of appeal after they dropped the ball on film three, but it’s hard to imagine that a new trilogy (which inevitably it will become, if successful) will get out of the blocks any more quickly than Raimi’s did in 2002.
Rebooting a multi-billion dollar franchise does seem like an odd decision, but Sony clearly feels the character is strong enough to warrant another run. From a fan’s perspective it does throw up the chance of seeing some different storylines and villains on screen, and those of us still reeling from the mistreatment of Venom might yet get a decent attempt made. A suggestion for Sony: make J.K. Simmons your first casting call.