Sony’s Columbia Pictures has decided to scrap Spider-Man 4, scheduled for 2011, after more than two years of pre-production. Instead, the studio will reboot the series entirely, jettisoning director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire. “Peter Parker is going back to high school when the next Spider-Man hits theaters in the summer of 2012. Says the company’s statement, “[Columbia and Marvel Studios] 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.”
This isn’t the first time an action franchise has wiped the slate clean, but it usually happens years after a flop like Batman & Robin or Superman IV: The Quest For Peace. But Spider-Man 3 made almost $900 million worldwide less than three years ago. So what happened?
While Raimi is polite in the studio’s press release (“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”) it’s known he was clashing with the studio over the planned sequel’s cast—he wanted to use winged criminal The Vulture (think John Malkovich), they wanted sexy seductress The Black Cat (think Anne Hathaway). Raimi had been averse to using Venom in Spidey 3, and while the film was a hit, some fans didn’t appreciate Raimi’s love of dance sequences and old-timey melodrama. Since Maguire, Raimi and co-star Kirsten Dunst were an all-for-one/one-for-all team, Sony must have decided they’d be better off without them. Following the massive success of Avatar, some are even speculating James Cameron (who campaigned for the franchise before Raimi got the nod) may take over to bring the character into 3D. Truth is, they might need a director that exciting to make up for this bad buzz.
[Photo: Sony Pictures]