For a better experience on MUBI, update your browser.

Topics/Questions/Exercises Of The Week—15 January 2010

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?

I’ll go on David Shuster and defend Armond there from you east coast liberals and your common sense.
The thing I wonder about is just what language is in Sony’s deal with Marvel re: the rights to Spider-Man. What sort of timeline pressures are they under before they revert back to Marvisney (Disvel?), etc. I haven’t seen a breakdown of that anywhere…
It seemed like Raimi was setting us up for an appearance by Dylan Baker, as “The Lizard,” a classic Spiderman villain. (Let me explain: Dylan Baker plays Doc Connors in the Spiderman Trilogy. In the original comics, Doc Connors becomes The Lizard.) That’s something the comic book geek in me is going to miss.
This is an example of how insane the corporate structure of movie-making is. They don’t care about the quality of the product and they don’t even care about the amount of money films make, they’re only interested in control. Orson Welles, although he was considered by critics the greatest American filmmaker by the time he was 30, only got four or five films bankrolled by Hollywood Production companies. This, despite the fact that he never went over-budget or over schedule on a film. The situation today is even worse, which is why 9 out of 10 films are mindless junk that are sold to teenagers and adults with teenager mentalities. In a better world, the studios would give artists the money to pursue their projects and not pressure or interfere with them.

Please to add a new comment.

Previous Features