There are a number of rumors behind why Sam Raimi didn’t get to direct Spider-man 4, and it’s possible there’s an element of truth in most of them. Let’s not get into that though, because I don’t want this to be a gossip or rumor blog. What we do know is that Spider-Man 4 was originally announced with a 2011 release date, but in 2010, Sony and Marvel announced that they’d instead reboot the series with a new cast and crew. Of its cancellation, producer Avi Arad said,
“We were working on what we called Spider-Man 4 and it was the same production team. The problem was we didn’t have a story that was strong enough and warranted another movie … between [Raimi], and Tobey and obviously the studio, we all went into it not feeling good about the next story.”
With Spider-Man 2 being such a success, and still considered by many as among the greatest superhero films of all-time, excitement was sky high for the inevitable Spider-Man 3. As much as superhero movies suffered a bit in the mid-2000’s due to oversaturation and a drop in quality, we all thought Spider-Man 3 would still be brilliant. Remember X-Men 3? Catwoman? 2005’s Elektra? Superman Returns? 2005’s Fantastic Four? Blade: Trinity? All of those movies released between Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3, and Rise of the Silver Surfer released about a month after. Yet none of those movies killed our enthusiasm for Tobey Maguire’s third outing as Spider-Man.
Spider-Man 3 remains the only movie I’ve seen at a midnight release, and I saw it with a group of lifelong friends, most of which I’m still in touch with. It also contains my favourite audience memory in theaters. It’s a bit of a sexist joke, but right around the time when Peter Parker realizes what his black suit is doing to him – right after he slaps Mary Jane, someone in the audience shouted out, “Make me a sandwich!”. Everyone in the theatre laughed at that otherwise dark emotional moment.
Immediately after Spider-Man 2002’s success, director Sam Raimi signed on for a sequel. A sequel that, to this day, many consider to be among the greatest superhero movies of all-time. Although it didn’t make quite as much money as the first, with $789 million on a $200 million budget, it was no doubt a very successful film.
Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, who co-created the Smallville TV series that started airing the year before, soon joined in to help write the script. David Koepp, who wrote the final script for the first movie, also came back for the sequel. Koepp by the way is up there with the most successful film screenwriters of all-time. Some of his other credits include Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park (which he also worked as a second unit director), the first Mission Impossible movie, Zathura, Toy Soldiers, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull … well, I didn’t say all of his movies are good.
Spider-Man, from 2002, is actually the first superhero movie I saw from the early 2000’s superhero movie boom. Even before I saw it, I wanted to see this Spider-Man movie. While it didn’t necessarily spark my interest in superheroes in general (I credit X-Men for that), I did very much enjoy Spider-Man, both the movie and the character. I also enjoyed, and still own, the video game based on this movie.
As with a lot of these film adaptation, it took a while to get going, but the result was well worth it in the long run. Plans for a Spider-Man movie went back to the early 1980s, with Roger Corman (Fantastic Four) first buying the film rights and started developing it for Orion Pictures. They even brought in Stan Lee to write the script, which would feature Doctor Octopus as the main villain, and Cold War themes. The project never made it past the script phase because of budget disputes between Corman and Lee (I imagine Lee wanted a bigger budget, considering Corman is known for his low-budget films).
Turning Red, released earlier this year, marks the third time a Pixar movie didn’t receive a full theatrical release (the very good Soul being the first). Despite releasing in March, when most territories in the United States and Canada started opening up again, it received a free Disney+ release anywhere where the streaming service is available. This was also well after both No Time to Die and Spider-Man: No Way Home did very well in theaters. It did receive a couple of premier releases, including the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto and the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, but otherwise it only enjoyed a handful of theatrical showings in North America the same day it released on Disney+. They also cancelled the Russian release in response to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The result is, Turning Red is the third Pixar movie in a row to bomb, purely because of Disney’s release strategy. It received roughly $20 million in theaters, on a budget of $175 million. That said, after watching it, I’m not entirely sure how profitable it would have been anyway.
Back in 2017, I started regularly reviewing movies, and over time I found that I enjoy retrospective movie reviews more than writing about comics. As much as I want to get back into comics someday, movies have been a much bigger part of my life overall. So have video games, but I don’t really have the time to write about them regularly. These days it takes me weeks to finish one game, if not months, so why bother covering them even sporadically? Anyway, I started these movie blog posts by looking at all 56 movies from Disney Animation Studios. At least, there were 56 at the time. Now there are 60. A number of them I never saw before, and I wasn’t completely sure how I felt about some of those. Among those, you have the two “Robin” movies.
I’m referring to 1973’s Robin Hood and 2007’s Meet The Robinsons. This is going to be a relatively quick post. I’ve already talked about both of these films’ backgrounds in my original post – no reason to expand on them. First, let’s talk about Robin Hood.
It seems that Pixar hasn’t done as well with their advertising in the last couple of years. I knew very little about Soul before I watched it about a year ago, and I didn’t even know this movie existed until I started researching for a month where I’d catch up on Disney and Pixar movies. Their 25th movie, Turning Red, wasn’t exactly well advertised either. As for Lightyear, which is currently bombing, every comment I’ve seen from people who have watched it says that the trailers basically told them nothing about the movie, and could explain more about the movie with one sentence than the trailers did.
Well, Luca exists, and it released in June of 2021 to a box office of $49 million. You can blame at least some of that on the fact that most theaters were still closed at the time. Disney only gave this a theatrical release for one week at Hollywood’s El Captain Theatre, and in international markets where Disney+ isn’t available. Otherwise, it released on Disney+ the day it was originally to be released. Also like Soul, it was free to any existing subscribers to Disney+.
I get the general impression that Raya and the Last Dragon was originally supposed to be Disney Animation Studio’s 60th movie. It’s a big story (too big for the movie’s own good), attempting to tell an epic fantasy story involving dragons, evil spirits and rival tribes coming together. It would have made sense, seeing how both the 25th and 50th movies from the studios were major projects. But they cancelled the movie Gigantic, which was originally supposed to release in November 2016, so Raya moved up to movie number 59. Instead, Encanto became the studio’s 60th movie.
The basic premise of Encanto is it follows a multigenerational Colombian family, in which every member receives some sort of magical gift on their fifth birthday. Well … except for central character Mirabel, who was denied a magical gift for an unknown reason. It’s an interesting concept, but for the most part this movie takes the more dramatic, character focused route over an epic story. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t really feel like a 60th movie.
I wasn’t all that impressed with the first three MCU movies that released in 2021. Black Widow was my favourite of the three, but it was held back by Scarlett Johansson looking kind of bored, Black Widow being a background character in her own movie, and a climax that was way over the top for what was otherwise a decent, down-to-Earth spy thriller. I’ve got other complaints, but that sums it up. Shang-Chi had way too many ideas for its own good, and would have been much better by removing Katy as a character, half of the fantasy elements, all the CGI monsters in the climax. The movie was at its best when it focused on pure martial arts, the ten rings, and the family drama. The nicest thing I can say about Eternals is that it’s a viable cure for insomnia. Thankfully the fourth time’s the charm, because Spider-Man: No Way Home is very good.
And just think – this movie almost didn’t happen.
During the production of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures started planning two sequels. Spider-Man actor Tom Holland talked about how each movie would focus on a different year in high-school for Peter Parker, the third being his senior year. As part of their co-operative deal to share Spider-Man, Disney would earn 5% of Sony’s profits off of their Spider-Man films. However, Disney didn’t like the deal as it stood, while also expressing concern for MCU head Kevin Feige’s workload. Long story short, a dispute started around the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home. They didn’t come to an agreement. In September of 2019, Sony Pictures chairman Tony Vinciquerra said that “for the moment, the door is closed” on Spider-Man returning to the MCU. He would instead be integrated with Sony’s own shared Spider-Man universe.
Nope, I’m not giving this movie the dignity of calling it by its actual title. It doesn’t deserve it.
After Rise of the Silver Surfer disappointed at the box office (despite still making a profit), 20th Century Fox waited until 2009 to announce their plans to reboot the Fantastic Four film franchise. They soon hired Michael Green to write the screenplay (also known for Blade Runner 2049, Alien: Covenant and co-writing Logan). By the way, all of those movies released in 2017. It’s also worth noting that the first movie released with his writing was 2011’s Green Lantern. Of course, after Josh Trank signed on to direct the film, he decided to work on his own script, ignoring Green’s draft completely.
The original script written for this film sounded a bit overly complex, with Dr. Doom working as a herald for Galactus as a spy, who somehow becomes the dictator of Latveria. Yeah, as great of a “villain” as Galactus was, and how it would be nice to see him represented properly on film, he’s not a first movie villain. Jeremy Slater was also hired to write the movie at one point, but when he and Trank’s tones were completely different, Slater left the project. Long story short, Slater saw The Avengers as a template for the tone they should aim for, while Trank “hated every second of it.” In October of 2013, X-Men film writer Simon Kinberg joined the project to co-write and produce.