Executive Decision: Or should we call this one "They Were Expendable?" Early in the week, it was announced that the fourth Spider Man film to be directed by Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire was not, in fact, going to happen. Raimi had told the studio he could not deliver the film for its 2011 deadline, and studio head Amy Pascal and Some Dude from Marvel decided not to replace Raimi but rather to "reboot" the franchise à la Batman Begins, or something. Observe Nikki Finke and Michael Fleming, "Immediately, the news brought celebration and consternation equally to webslinger fanboys who say the reboot plot puts Peter Parker back in high school." I don't follow the ins and outs of studio heads and dealmaking as much as I used to, but it's always kind of interesting to observe the semiotics of such situations. In this case, not much outrage resulted. The Fleming/Finke report implied that Raimi is pretty much capable of writing his own ticket, and that Maguire isn't taking it hard at all. Truth to tell, Maguire did seem to be tiring of the Peter Parker role, and Spider Man 3 was pretty much the worst of the superhero series. As an old-time Raimi fan, I might have liked to have him gone out with a good Spider Man film, but I liked Drag Me To Hell well enough to be looking forward to whatever the heck he does next. So everybody goes away friends, we guess. Things were a little more tense last summer, when Pascal put the film Moneyball, to be directed by Steven Soderbergh, into turnaround mere days before production was to have begun. More than one pundit seemed to think that Soderbergh was getting a deserved, George-Amberson-esque comeuppance, because his ambitious Che didn't make much money. And was ambitious. Where the hell does he get off.
What crocodile tears were shed were for Pascal! "It's never an easy decision when a studio head has to pull the plug on a big movie," sniffed Patrick Goldstein, before allowing Pascal to aver "I'd still work with Steven in a minute." From the way so many had been talking, you'd think that Sony had bankrolled Che. (It did not.) And while the Spider Man lineup shift is occurring in a "we're all still friends" atmosphere, you'd think that, given the way Spider Man 2 saved Sony's bacon after the disastrous year of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, you'd think that just a little scheduling flexibility might have been in order. But no. Instead, Peter Parker is going back to high school.
Which leads to the question, just how many millions of dollars do you have to make for Hollywood, and how often, before things such as this stop happening? Maybe that's a rhetorical question. In fact, I'm certain that it is.
Personal To K.O.: Dude, I know you're going to want me on the show for backup when you name you-know-who as the day's "Worst Person In The World." So call me, why doncha?