There are two well-known axioms in Hollywood. Former executives are given big titles to produce when they leave their jobs. And franchise properties never really die.
Both are coming to fruition with a fast-breaking story. Sony and Marvel announced Monday they’re teaming up for a “Spider-Man” movie that will involve a “new creative direction” for the much-plumbed character and also mark outgoing Sony Pictures Co-Chair Amy Pascal’s first producing project on the studio lot. Marvel topper Kevin Feige will also produce.
The new film will hit theaters on July 28, 2017. As part of the deal, the character will appear in an upcoming Marvel Studios film (there are several such releases in the next two years), giving the rebooted character a huge promotional launching pad. It’s also possible, the companies said, that Marvel Studios characters will in turn appear in this or other “Spider-Man”-centric films, completing the circle.
Though no casting or filmmakers were announced, the news effectively ends a two-picture experiment of star Andrew Garfield and director Marc Webb for an emo spin on the character under the “Amazing Spider-Man” banner. Overall, it spells the third go-round for Peter Parker and his superhero alter ego, after Sam Raimi’s three-film series that ran from 2002 to 2007.
A “Spider-Man” spinoff involving the cabal of villains known as the Sinister Six is still in development at Sony with writer-director Drew Goddard, but it is unlikely to still be targeted for a planned 2016 release date in light of the new "Spider-Man" direction. For Marvel, a planned July '17 "Thor" sequel is likely to be postponed as well given Monday's news.
Sony’s “Spider-Man” license has been the subject of much speculation—it is one of the few tent pole properties controlled by the Culver City studio, but it has flagged of late, with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” taking in a comparatively underwhelming $700 million worldwide last year.
With the partnership, Sony will have the right to hold on to the character and maintain what the companies are calling “final creative control”--but now with the added reach of Marvel, which as a Disney subsidiary controls some of the most effective superhero marketing machinery in Hollywood and regularly draws the biggest audiences to its films.
For Marvel, meanwhile, it allows the studio to add Spider-Man to its already massive ensemble of superhero characters, welcome news for a number of hardcore fans who wanted to see Spider-Man added to the mix.
Still, the news of what will essentially be the sixth Spider-Man film in 15 years--not to mention one more spinoff in a Marvel movie universe teeming with them--is bound to raise questions about Hollywood overkill and the need for more "Spider-Man" movies.
There is other fallout too. With the involvement of Marvel topper Feige and former Sony topper Pascal, Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach—the former Marvel and Sony executives, respectively, who had been producing and spearheading the “Amazing Spider-Man” line—will no longer have a central role in the franchise. More Tuesday.