Disposable Cinema

Disposable Cinema: I Give You the Future of 'The Amazing Spider-Man'

Three films, five years, low expectations

On Monday it was announced Sony would release The Amazing Spider-Man 3 on June 10, 2016 and The Amazing Spider-Man 4 on May 4, 2018. Yes, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is still filming and won't be in theaters until May 2, 2014, which gives us three sequels over the next five years to a lackluster reboot that began with a villain hellbent on turning everyone into lizards.

This is today's Hollywood. This is why licensing expos and comic book conventions have become just as, if not more, popular than the most prestigious film festivals. This is why pictures of posters with a date on them make headlines. "Jurassic Park IV in 2015! Confirmed!"

Yes, I understand Hollywood is not a machine that runs on quality, it runs on money. The goal is not to make a great movie, the goal is to make a movie that will make money. If it's great, all the better. Not because it means that singular movie will make more money (though that definitely helps), but because you can use that success to sell future films and continue to make money off the original accomplishments. As I wrote this morning, there's a reason Fox went with Jack Paglen to write Prometheus 2. If Transcendence is a hit, adding "From the writer of Transcendence" to the Prometheus 2 trailers won't hurt matters any.

Getting back to Spider-Man... Sony has found renewed "success" in their Spider-Man franchise after rebooting the story of the high school superhero, played by soon-to-be 30-year-old Andrew Garfield, last year to the tune of $752+ million worldwide. Sound like a lot? Well, compared to the $890.9 million Spider-Man 3 (which didn't take advantage of 3-D ticket prices) made five years earlier puts the latest film's success in perspective just as much as it comments on the declining audience interest in seeing these carbon copy, cookie cutter, mass consumption "blockbusters" on the big screen in the first place. In fact, The Amazing Spider-Man is the lowest grossing installment of any of the four Spider-Man films Sony has released. Success!

Next step? The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a film that is already undergoing changes on the fly, just as the first film did.

Entertainment Weekly spoke with Shailene Woodley (The Descendents) who was to play Mary Jane Watson in Amazing Spider-Man 2, but it appears her role in the second film has been axed and the character will be recast for 2016's Spider-Man 3.

"Of course I'm bummed," Woodley said. "But I'm a firm believer in everything happening for a specific reason... based on the proposed plot, I completely understand holding off on introducing (Mary Jane) until the next film."

What does that mean? Based on the proposed plot? What was the proposed plot when her character was written into the script?

Of course, anyone half paying attention already expects Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy to die some time in this next installment, but I guess her death and the introduction of a new love interest was just considered "too soon" for director Marc Webb and his committee of story consultants making sure the plot of the franchise is only deep enough to hardly sustain a feature film.

Meanwhile, James Franco, who starred in the original Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man films as Harry Osborn, just reviewed Man of Steel for Vice and took the opportunity to not only discuss the latest Superman film, but also revisit his thoughts on the latest reboot.

"I don’t have a huge emotional attachment to the Spider-Man franchise as a subject," he wrote. "I don't really feel much distress over its being remade, for many reasons, but what is interesting to me is that it has been remade so quickly -- and the reasons why... The answer is, of course, money. We are in the film business, and the studios are owned by large corporations who want to make money."

Add to that, Franco previously told MTV earlier this year, "[T]hey could have strayed a little bit more from the original."

Of course, there is always a chance for these films to be decent, but that seems to be the bar nowadays... decent. I've argued with people over the quality of recent blockbusters such as Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness and I keep coming back to them saying, "If a studio is going to spend $200 million on a movie I expect it to be better than 'fine'." Not only that, studios have saturated the market so much it's gotten to the point it's hard to remember the films that came out only a couple weeks ago.

On Tuesday's podcast we mentioned the near shock at the fact this year has already brought us films such as Oz The Great and Powerful, Star Trek Into Darkness, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and A Good Day to Die Hard. All these movies came out this year, two of them are already on DVD, and it feels like ages since they were released. Hell, if it wasn't for this silly "controversy" surrounding Man of Steel would anyone be talking about it any longer?

Studio attempts to target opening weekend box-office have succeeded. They've also managed to turn $200 million blockbusters into disposable commodities. A major studio release can expect about five days of relevancy once it's released... and for the majority of the releases that's generous. I expect nothing less from the multitude of Spider-Man movies coming down the pike.

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  • http://lifein70mm.wordpress.com ViralVora

    Brad I might be in the minority of the people who preferred TASM over Raimi's third installment, also I find Garfield to be a much better spiderman than Maguire. Webb's not a bad director I mean he made 500 days - it was a wonderful film and I echo your sentiments on disposable cinema hence the hissy-fit I threw with my friends after the screening of MoS. I think Spiderman reboot was done in a hurry probably because of the Justice League tie-in and again that is a decision that was driven by studio execs, these same execs make money off such blockbusters which is then required to finance a mammoth undertaking like Inception was.

    I cannot defend garbage that comes out in forms of Blockbuster but you are being way too hard on Spiderman reboot based on what was probably an excellent movie with a weak villian and without seeing the second in the franchise.

    if it is crappy I am there with you holding up a sign!

    • Jamie Crump

      Spider-Man wouldn't be in Justice league, but I agree with you with everything else.

    • http://www.rabidpictures.com Yaz

      I think Viral meant more from a competition standpoint. Marvel/Sony took notice of DC's plan to fast track and is doing the same.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/andyluvsfilms/ andyluvsfilms

    i didnt hate TASM and actually thought the 3D was really good but by God im so superheroed out now i cant see me watching the trailers let alone the films

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

    Well, blockbusters are like every other movie. One man's trash is another's treasure (see Man of Steel most recently) and quality is as much in the eye of the beholder than any sort of quantifiable index. There's been an inherent disposability in them since the 1990's when they started to come to the fore as income sources for studios.

    However, I'm not a Spider-Man fan and didn't personally like even the Raimi films so I'm actually not bothered about Sony's plans for it.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      It extends beyond just Spider-Man, this is merely an example of what movies have become. You could almost argue they are no longer movies in a lot of ways. I get your argument of the downward trend since the '90s, but they've embraced the formula wholly and done so to the point virtually every studio makes similar attempts, which gives us the saturation I mention at the end of the post.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

        Of course it does, because every studio is looking for a cash cow franchise to keep them ticking over. And because eventually they need to move from one over to another.

        Universal has Fast & Furious (which is already on it's seventh film and by next Summer will be on it's fourth film in just five years), Paramount tried less successfully with Star Trek Into Darkness (though hands up I enjoyed it personally), WB spent a decade with Harry Potter and are now looking to Man of Steel/Justice League post Batman trilogy and Disney has bought up everything it can because it has no in house ability to generate much anymore.

        Anyway, that's an aside. But maybe it's just me. I don't mind a disposable flick in and of itself because they're not really 'new' from my POV but I think it's more the dating them years ahead of time, and the overt-ness of that that's more grating than the film's themselves. It's no doubt connected to the rise of the global market as well which is a relatively new development.

        It's the next cash frontier but studios are going to pursue it.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Hudsucker/ Hudsucker

    Maye the 2010's may lead to a new period of New Hollywood. I can dream..

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ecto/ Ecto

    What we need is a reboot of HOWARD THE DUCK. Enough with Spiderman. Enough with Superman...let's get DOWN America!...

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

    I am going to completely focus on the wrong thing here: Amazing Spider Man 2 prediction. Gwen dies, movie ends, after the credits is the "Face it Tiger, you hit the jackpot" scene.

  • http://www.rabidpictures.com Yaz

    Interesting. I have been reading on other sites that MJ's been pushed to the third installment, but that Woodley would still have the role.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      That's what I thought, but The Hollywood Reporter suggests she'll be recast.

      • http://www.rabidpictures.com Yaz

        Got it - saw that too. Makes sense. Shame, I was really excited about that casting news. Oh well, she'll find success elsewhere.

  • Aidan Khan

    Although I'm sure i will see and probably enjoy all of these films, i hate how rushed they are. Man of Steel 2 next year? Justice league in 2015? 4 Spiderman Films in 6 years? WOW

  • Vince O.

    Although the action was normal CGI nonsense, I did enjoy Amazing Spider Man, especially for Garfield's spot on performance (in my mind, Garfield IS Peter Parker).

    But I'm in a minority & I know a lot of people responded to ASM with apathy. Not vehement hate (like Transformers) but straight up apathy, which is almost worse in a way.

    I love this piece because it's saying how I feel about our blockbuster culture. There's no better line I've heard this year than this one: "If a studio is going to spend $200 million on a movie I expect it to be better than 'fine'.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/maja/ maja

    I find it crazy that the studio would greenlit three more Spiderman movies...like you said in the post the reboot was less successful than the 3rd version of the Raimi films so why did they not continue them? It is purely because they had the original cast signed onto three films and couldn't convince them to return? Either way, the only time I've heard of something like this happening is with Avatar and that was the most successful movie of all time...TASM was seen as a box office disappointment on release.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/TheMovieGuru/ The Movie Guru

    No fourth installment has ever been good, so I don't know why you would do four movies. I love a good summer blockbuster and I've been enjoying the summer season (so far Fast 6 and Iron Man 3 are the best) but greenlighting three sequels is ridiculous.

    TASM was a decent film, by no means great, but I'm strangely excited for a sequel.

    And that is precisely why studios keep making these films.

    Btw, how was World War Z?

  • https://twitter.com/TooMuchHamza Hamza Zain

    The thing that bothers me is that fast tracking these comic book films does not increase excitement or anticipation for them. Part of the reason people appreciated Nolan's Batman films is because he took the time to make them right. Marvel, with their Avengers cannon, has seen financial success at the expense of all their films essentially being made in the same cookie cutter format. Warner Brothers would be wiser to let Snyder and Goyer work longer on Man of Steel, especially after people had such issue with certain plot points.

    As for the news about Woodley, it's a damn shame. She's a fantastic young actress, and when you mentioned the "is she hot enough" argument, it kind of made sense. When she was announced as MJ, I saw friends of mine of Facebook who are fans of Spider-Man going after her for not being the bombshell that MJ is supposed to be. It's the same people who complained when Maggie Gyllenhaal was cast in TDK. I also read on The Playlist that Marc Webb's reasoning for cutting MJ from this film was Woodley only shot a few scenes and it was to simplify the plot. The plot that includes like 6 villains.

  • B Smith

    I actually haven't seen The Amazing Spider Man because I kind of felt it was unnecessary. But I agree that 3 sequels is pushing it. I mean it worked for Marvel I guess, but at least Marvel broke it up a bit by having different heroes in the same universe.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/TimmaeXVX/ TimmaeXVX

    "... director Marc Webb and his committee of story consultants making sure the plot of the franchise is only deep enough to hardly sustain a feature film."

    But then we can have moooaaar action. And isn't that what we all really want? Dudes in unitards punching personality-free CGI monsters is the way of the future!

    But seriously that line I just quoted won you the internet today. Congratulations, Brad.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Adu/ Adu

    I enjoyed the last Spiderman quite a bit, so I dont see a problem with this. I love indie movies, but enjoy some disposable stuff as well...Spiderman falls in that category, while I can't stand the Fast-Furious franchise...different stroked I guess!

    And again, I don't see a problem with sequels coming out every year/every other year. If the resources are aligned, I do not see how it would lead to a lesser product. I mean look at Game of thrones, they do one season a year and it has done quite well; so why can't other big budget films do that?

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      HBO produces "Game of Thrones" for something like $50-72 million a season and offers 12 hours of what is generally agreed to be great entertainment. The reported budget on The Amazing Spider-Man was $230 million and it didn't offer nearly the complexity of story, level of entertainment or amount of content.

      Do you really think that's a good comparison to make?

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Adu/ Adu

        You're right, not a good comparison on that sense. What I am trying to say is I see no reason by entertaining sequels can't be made every or every other year.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Grasshopper/ Grasshopper

    What I find the most frustrating is the amount of TALENT going into these films, which as Brad said is just 'fine'. Then taking into account the budget of 200million, the actual films may be okay but the talent involved should make the films better. Andrew Garfield was excellent in the Social Network, so was Shailene Woodley in the Descendants. So why are the performances so average, or on par with these passable films. I understand they have had better directors, Fincher and Payne respectively, but I don't think this warrants the outcomes of the films.
    It's lazy filmmaking, not only to make money but also so that the films are in theaters as soon as possible, failing to polish or perfect the fundamentals if the films (eg story, performances, etc. )

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/thesharknuker/ Steven P

    If the blockbuster bubble pops do you think we'll see smaller, more artistically minded movies?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/jgolding/ Justin Golding

    It makes me sad that Marc Webb could potentially just be making spiderman movies for the next six years; I loved 500 Days of Summer.

  • Josh McLaughlin

    I have to agree with all of this, Brevet. Although I am a big fan of comic-book movies (mostly-see my reactions to "Man of Steel"), I can't believe how quickly the studios want to churn them out. I mean, an "MoS" sequel next summer followed by "Justice League" the following year? Come on. These guys should take their time to make these films right; otherwise, we will all be indifferent to the finished products. Unless we're so thoroughly seduced by the marketing that they pull us (the public at large) in again (I hope that I'm not that big of an idiot to fall for that).

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/jaybob/ jaybob

    Movies have always been disposable money makers. It's a fallacy to think this is some kind of new low in our culture.

    It was Samuel Goldwyn that said: "Pictures are for entertainment, messages should be delivered by Western Union."

    And the movies that were once considered nothing more than commercial junk are now rated as classics.

  • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt

    I'm not ready to write off the entire franchise as disposable, as they are getting some pretty amazing actors to join the cast. But I am not excited about them. I grew up loving the original "Spider-Man" film and feel that there is not enough of a difference in tone between this series and the original trilogy to justify a reboot. At least when Nolan rebooted Batman, it was virtually unrecognizable compared to the Burton/Schumacer films. And I can't believe that Sony would plan this far ahead. At least with "The Avengers", Marvel has the box office results to prove those films will most likely be successful. TASM was a hit, but was it really a big enough hit to plan three films ahead? I feel like virtually every conversation I have about the Spider-Man franchise involves the original trilogy- not the reboot.

    On an unrelated note, it's a very strange feeling to realize I was in elementary school when the first "Spider-Man" was released and that a whole different version of the character will be on the fourth film when I'm 24 years old. Makes me feel strangely old, haha.

    • Josh McLaughlin

      Wow - now you just made me feel old, haha.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Freefinger/ Free Finger

      I think Batman was unrecognizable from the Burton movie to the Schumacher's ridiculous films... Nolan was able to switch it as it had went so much downhill that no one wanted to continue what Schumacher had already destroyed. The reboot was a obligation.. ;)

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/topyxyz/ topyxyz

    Personally I'm anticipating Lego Movie more than the next Spider-Man.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Freefinger/ Free Finger

    Hi All.. One of the things about this reboot that most people didn't get is that's they wanted to make it closer to the alternate Ultimate universe. While I enjoyed the first trilogy from Raimi, once I saw TASM I thought that it stood on it's own against it. Raimi's vision brought us closer to the original comics (mostly 80's to mid 90's vision) where spidey is more 'fun'. Other than Spider-man 3 that was rushed and that Venom was definitely pushed on Raimi, the first two were ok stories and great for every Spidey lover out there. It gave us a good Superhero movie.

    TASM was different. It gave us that more conflicted original Peter Parker from the 60's yet brought it close to the Ultimate vision were it brought the origins a little bit different. I think this is why it's so different that it needed to be 'rebooted'.

    I rather see this as the other Spider-Man.

    If they had wished to continue the Raimi universe's Spidey, they would've needed to continue the story and get an older actor to take on the mantle of being Peter Parker. Which would've been fine, but in a sense would've just made us skip to a 5 to 10 yr span. This would could've also been great in a way to see that Spidey is now more mature and as been Spider-Man for at least ten years instead of a few, so we would see him being way more comfortable with his skills and powers, and maybe even live with MJ (which would also need to be recast as I thought it was one of the worst casting choices from the franchise).

    In all you have to give this one another chance as it's a different universe Spidey. I think Webb handled it very well and removed the ridiculous look that Tobey gave through the 2nd and 3rd movies. It worked on the first one, but he should've been able to make Peter be a little bit more mature by the end of the 3rd one.

    I also think Andrew Garfield was a better Peter Parker in the TASM movie. And with the costume change they are bringing back to the 2nd part I think they are on the right track.