Nikki Finke clears up some rumors that have been leaking out lately and finds that Spidey 4’s February start date has been canceled, jeopardizing its planned May 2011 opening.
Spider-Man 4 was supposed to start filming in February, and star Tobey Maguire echoed that repeatedly in publicity appearances for Brothers. Then it pushed to March. Then late March/early April. And now there’s no date at all, according to my Sony insiders who emailed me: “Some decisions have been made over the holiday about Spider-Man 4. We will be extending the production hiatus on the film. The studio is firmly committed to this franchise but, for us, the script must come first. We intend to notify members of the crew immediately. As you know, Alvin Sargent is currently working on the screenplay. When we have more news, we will keep you posted.”
The delay is due to script trouble: director/auteur Sam Raimi reportedly “hates” the current version by Jamie Vanderbilt, David Lindsay-Abaire, and Gary Ross, and veteran Alvin Sargent is working on a new polish.
There had been some chatter on the net that Raimi and the studio have been clashing over who would be the villain in the film — Raimi wanted the Vulture and the studio wanted a more contemporary foe. The fans seem to want The Black Cat in the movie—and every hot starlet has been rumored for the role —but how Raimi feels about Felicia Hardy is anyone’s guess.
One thing’s for sure, when Raimi is forced to use a villain he doesn’t like, the result is stinky..
Sony and Marvel’s Avi Arad shoved Venom down Raimi’s throat for Spidey 3 and we all know how THAT turned out. The scenes with Thomas Hayden Church’s Sandman had real emotion, while the entire Venom storyline bored viewers as much as it obviously bored Raimi. A few months ago Raimi was still smarting from Venom-gate:
“The best way for me to move forward on films,” Raimi continued, “is that I’ve got to be the singular voice that makes the creative choices on the film.”
These comments would appear to echo the director’s purported dispute with Sony Pictures regarding the symbiotic villain’s involvement in “Spider-Man 3,” despite rumored plans for a Venom spin-off.
“I love Spider-Man so much that I’d like to continue telling Spider-Man stories,” Raimi concluded. “But only under those circumstances where I think I can honour him.”
For better or worse, Sam Raimi has a lot of empathy with bad guys who are sad old men in wifebeaters or other ugly shirts — villains like Doc Ock and the Sandman. The Vulture — rumored to be played by John Malkovich — would certainly fit into this category: dude wears a feather boa. It’s Raimi’s quirks that have made the part of the Spidey franchise that worked, work, so mess with the formula at your peril, Sony.