Wednesday, July 27, 2011

For the good of the industry: Why The Amazing Spider-Man must not be a smash...

What was merely presumed is now official, as IMAX announced that The Amazing Spider-Man would be debuting in IMAX 3D along with its 2D and Digital 3D counterparts on July 3, 2012.  This is no surprise, as Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 both played in IMAX (the latter opened day-and-date), while the lost Raimi-helmed Spider-Man 4 was announced as an IMAX launch when it was scheduled to open on May 5th of this year.  Of course, the Marc Webb Spider-Man reboot will only have 2.5 weeks in IMAX before Chris Nolan debuts The Dark Knight Rises on July 20th.  I have nothing against anyone involved with the making of The Amazing Spider-Man.  I liked Marc Webb's (500) Days of Summer, I think Emma Stone deserved an Oscar nomination for Easy A, and Andrew Garfield has shined in (among his more mainstream films) Never Let Me Go and The Social Network.  And while the teaser trailer failed to make any real impression beyond autopilot 'dark and gritty' brooding, I've been told the footage at Comic Con was more impressive.  But for the good of the industry as a whole, for the sake of the countless untapped sources of big-budget cinematic experiences, The Amazing Spider-Man must bomb.

If The Amazing Spider-Man is a hit, then the floodgates will open.  If Sony gets away with kicking Sam Raimi off the franchise that made it billions of dollars purely due to artistic disagreements (after they forced Raimi to include Venom in Spider-Man 3), then it will be open season on reboots and the end to any kind of artistic freedom on these genre franchises.  Every remotely successful property in the last three decades will be vulnerable.  We've already seen this trend in horror films, where pretty much every major 1970s and 1980s horror classic has been remade.  But again, in that case we are talking about remakes of 25-35-year old films intended to supplement, not replace, the original versions.  What we have here is a studio arbitrarily throwing out an ongoing franchise in order to save money and have more creative control.  If this works, every franchise will be 'do a trilogy and reboot'.  And more importantly, if rebooting is successful, we will see the same dozen or so franchises being rebooted over and over again.  We'll see Warner Bros. rebooting every major property in their arsenal (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Batman, Superman, Lethal Weapon, The Matrix, Dirty Harry, etc) every ten years.  We'll see Fox redoing their Marvel properties (Daredevil, Fantastic Four, X-Men) over and over again all to keep the franchise rights from transferring to Disney.  We will see endless Bourne films with countless different brainwashed Treadstone agents.  We'll see new variations on Indiana Jones (starring, I dunno, Taylor Lautner), Die Hard (starring... umm... Jason Statham?), the Jack Ryan series (apparently now starring Chris Pine), Ghostbusters (starring Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Paul Rudd), and any other remotely popular genre film you can think of from the last ten to thirty years.  And when the newest variation of said franchise is tapped out, they'll just start up all over again.

This isn't about Hollywood not being original.  Heck, many of the best films of modern times were based on novels, and several were based on comic books (although only a couple were based on television shows while none were based on video games).  This is about the very real threat whereby the big studios basically recycle their biggest cash cows over and over again.  There have already been hints of this, with a remake of Total Recall in production and remakes/reboots of The Crow, Lethal Weapon, and The Bodyguard in pre-production.  More importantly, the threat of merely being kicked off the property and watching as the studio just reboots the thing will be fatal to filmmakers who want to exhibit any kind of creative control over these films.  But if The Amazing Spider-Man genuinely flops, it may be the last/best chance to stop this unrelenting drive of various studio heads to merely reboot the hit franchises of the previous generation.  Our kids (to say nothing of ourselves) deserve a better class of big-budget genre picture than mere retreads of the stuff we liked or our parents like.

As I said, I like everyone involved with The Amazing Spider-Man.  I rather adore the two apparent main sources of inspiration, Brian Michael Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man and Greg Weisman's Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon.  But the success of this Spider-Man 2.0 will only bring out the copy cats that much faster.  Unless we want to see a big budget release schedule filled with the same dozen franchise recycled over and over again, Spidey may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.  Because with great power comes... you get the idea.

Scott Mendelson        


Christian Guzman said...

I think you're right. It's absurd they're remaking Spider-man, It's been only a few years!

Brandon said...

This is inevitable in the case of Fox. Regardless of whether Amazing Spider-Man succeeds or fails, reboots and tales of Daredevil, Fantastic Four and X-Men are going to come at a fast rate. They have something at stake that is entirely unrelated. If they don't do something with these properties they lose them. That is also the same strategy behind Spider-Man. If nothing was going to be done, it was going to be lost. And since Spider-Man is such a marquee name, Disney was going to do it anyway. It was unavoidable.

Its gotta root back to the success of the horror genre. That's where we begin this.

However, its confusing whether the reboot is our friend or not.

Would we prefer a series getting to parts 5, 6 or 7 and being completely out of gas, director changes, cast changes, with forced awkward story movement because of said changes? Continual embarrassing entries into a series we stick with only because we loved the first few. Only once in a blue moon do we get a part 6 following multiple lackluster entries, like the saw franchise or a series with full studio backing and strong efforts through 8 installments like Harry Potter.

Would we rather another tired Brosnan entry to James Bond...and have Casino Royale/Quantum of Solace and Daniel Craig never happen? DS9 Star Trek films or JJ Abrams movie?

But then again, there's A Nightmare on Elm St, Halloween and Gus Van Sant's Psycho that drive me to despise the reboot/remake.

Kyle Leaman said...

" What we have here is a studio arbitrarily throwing out an ongoing franchise in order to save money and have more creative control."
- I think you contradicted yourself in the same sentence. How can it be arbitrary if they are doing it to save money and have more creative control?

While I think you are correct (to a point), I think you go way too far overboard. There are tipping points. Not every reboot is successful, and no one knows how long the trend will go on before it becomes unsuccessful.

On top of that, is their a huge difference between 'Die Hard' spin offs and a 'Die Hard' reboot that takes it into a different creative area with some new ideas? The horror reboots didn't really do that, but I don't think that doesn't mean there isn't room for creativity and originality in reboots, in the same way that sequels contain the potential for it.

Dirk2112 said...

Was all ready to argue based on the headline, but I gotta agree with your logic here. Much as I'd like to think quality should determine a film's success, studios just don't seem to see it. It's not so much that reboots are inherently bad, there are good reasons to reboot a creative disaster of a franchise like say the Fantastic Four or even Daredevil but the Spidey reboot is simply a cash grab ... and if Sony gets away with it, they'll try it with everything they possibly can. And beyond a wave of "it's too soon reboots," it's easy even to see a situation where things like Dark Knight Rises would start getting turned over to cheaper directors.

Malcolm Johnson said...

I wish it was completely about a lack of creativity, but it's not. In Spidey's case, Sony looked at their books, and saw they were having to share profit participation with Sam Raimi and Tobey McGuire,a nd they didn't want to share anymore. So instead of bringing them back, they relaunched.

Now, in some cases, a relaunch is required. After the disaster (at least to me) of the Tim Burton themed Batman films, Batman Begins was a welcome respite. I don't know if it was absolutely necessary to relaunch Bond, though a serious argument could be made given 26 years of continuity, but it seems to have worked creatively and financially for Sony.

I agree with the author the new Spider Man is an amazingly bad idea. I would at least tolerated them recasting, and moving forward, but to start everything over from scratch? Please.

Zxqyv37 said...

This is really a few months too late. X-Men First Class was a reboot after 3 movies. Hell, even X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a reboot, but I like to think that didn't happen.

mjredder said...

"Ghostbusters (starring Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Paul Rudd)"

Hey, I would watch this remake in a heartbeat. Those are some genuinely great and funny actors you casually threw in there. Why not pitch it somewhere and try to make some money of this throwaway-but-actually-good idea.

Tony Dedrick said...

I think you mean the Joel Schumacher Batman films.


Amazing Spiderman was going to happen after Spiderman 4 was shot no matter what.


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