Last month, a report hit online that "Spider-Man 4" production had been put on "indefinite hold" due to problems with the script — specifically, the choice of villain for the next chapter in the Sony Pictures franchise. Asked for comment on the report, the studio confirmed that production had indeed halted for the holidays, but denied that there was anything endangering the project's production schedule.
From that earlier report, it was indicated the hold happened because Sony and Sam Raimi were fighting about the script for the fourth movie. Sony wants another record-breaking blockbuster while Raimi wants to get "back to basics" and make a movie that everyone can enjoy.
Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood has now confirmed that "Spider-Man 4" is indeed on hold due to differences of opinion between Raimi and the studio over the film's script, and now the film could miss the mark for its intended May 5, 2011, release date.
While there's no official word on the project at this point and everything should still be considered rumor, there are a few other elements of the initial report that could merit attention from fans of the series.
According to Deadline Hollywood, one of the sticking points in script negotiations is Raimi's insistence that John Malkovich play the villain (rumored to be the Vulture), but Anne Hathaway's rumored involvement could no longer be an issue because the studio says "she'd cost too much and that they probably don't need 'such a big star' for the pic."
Drew McWeeny of HitFix says: "Since that first story ran, I've been hearing some really terrible things about what's going on between Sam Raimi, the studio, and the writers, and I've been starting to wonder if there's any chance they can reach an agreement that will make all involved parties happy."
I'm starting to worry about that as well. Will Raimi and Sony be able to work things out? I'm surprised that they're even fighting with Raimi, especially if they paid him big money to make sure he would return to the franchise.
Finke reports that Raimi "hated" the latest draft of the script. Sony has hired a fourth writer, Alvin Sargent, who wrote "Spider-Man 2" and "Spider-Man 3," to work on a new draft.
But the problem is they're already behind schedule waiting on this new script and therefore, according to an insider at Sony, "it is unlikely that May 11, 2011, date will be made."
But of course, "it depends on how quickly the script can get in," and if Raimi and Sony both like it. Finke says that Sony still wants to release "Spider-Man 4" that summer, even if they have to do push it back to July. But they'll be losing that May spot.
Here's the thing... another "Spider-Man" film will get made no matter what. But that doesn't mean it'll be a sequel to the films we've already seen, and there's no guarantee it will involve Sam Raimi or Tobey Maguire or anyone connected to the first three films. There may come a point where the studio realizes it's not going to happen, and they make the choice to move on and simply reboot the whole thing. I would imagine some of those conversations are starting to happen right now as scripts get rejected draft after draft.
The sad thing is that there are plenty of great villains and stories in the Spidey catalogue, so there's no reason why they should be hitting a wall in picking who the villain is. And there's really no reason to invent them wholecloth, either. Raimi's good at tying his villains to a theme he wants to explore about Spider-Man, so instead of trying to force him into using another villain he doesn't like (like Venom), I hope Sony lets him use the ones he wants. If only Sony would listen to Raimi and go with what he wants, then we'd not only have another big record-breaker in the works, but it'd probably be an awesome movie as well (just like "Spider-Man 2").
And if they don't, I hope Raimi moves on, for the sake of the film and his own sanity.
The more I hear about these "Spider-Man 4" problems, the more depressed I get. He is my favorite hero after all.
Hopefully some good news to come! Catch ya' later!
Sources: Deadline Hollywood, First Showing, MTV News, HitFix