Superheroes’ true foes: The moneymen

Comics, Movies

Spider-Man 3 Venom Peter Parker Tobey Maguire Sam RaimiAs was widely reported recently, the mega-successful Spider-Man film franchise is being rebooted. All the talent from the previous films, including stars Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and director Sam Raimi are all being replaced. (And most heartbreakingly, probably even geek icon Bruce Campbell!)

It seems like a strange move, given that 2007’s Spider-Man 3 raked in almost $900 million worldwide. At least it seems that way until you begin to look at the business side of things.

Raimi wasn’t happy with the direction the studio wanted to take the next sequel in the series and the film was placed on indefinite hold. Movies that are on hold don’t make anyone any money, though. In order to prevent the rights from reverting back to Marvel, Columbia has to be working on a Spidey movie. So rather than attempt to work things out with a proven success of a director, it’s in their interest to dump him and just go with a back-up script they already had written.

This reboot of the franchise moves Peter Parker back into high school and equally importantly allow the studio to replace Maguire, Dunst and their hefty salaries. Even if the movie makes tens of millions of dollars less, the studio will make it up via the lower-priced talent.

This is the downside to the recent success of superhero movies. Now that they’re proven moneymakers, the bottom line becomes the most important thing. Studios forget what made the genre work in the first place. They just figure that audiences will go see the next Spider-Man movie regardless of who’s starring in it or who directed it. They think that the character alone is enough to sell the movie.

They may be right, but that’s exactly the type of thinking that destroyed the Batman movie franchise, (I still have nightmares starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze.) until it was rescued by Christopher Nolan, a director/screenwriter who really cared about the movie. I hope that Spider-Man doesn’t suffer the same fate.

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