Sony’s Bug Problem


And while spiders are arachnids, not bugs, bear with me and all come clear.

Spider-Man: Homecoming makes its North American debut today, and some pundits believe that it will ensnare an opening somewhere in the ballpark of $100 million.  If this bears out it would make the movie the fourth of 2017–joining Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 and Wonder Woman–to reach that milestone.

Though–at least at the moment–Sony only plans to work with Marvel Studios on Homecoming and its sequel, and that’s problematic not only for that reason, but because they’re also planning movies based on Venom, Silver Sable and the Black Cat, all outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe (known as the MCU).

This is a terrible idea because one of the reasons Spider-Man: Honecoming is projected to do as well as it is is because Spider-Man is returning to the MCU, which people are interested in seeing, while Sony’s upcoming movies will likely not have this version of Spider-Man, if any at all.

As I said, it’s a problem because you’re not only taking away the context that Venom currently exists in–which is the MCU–you’re potentially taking away the reason Venom himself exists (the symbiont originally chose to bond with Spider-Man.  Only when it was rejected by him did it turn its attentions to Eddie Brock).

So Venom (as well as Silver Sable, Black Cat and whichever other Spiderverse characters they intend to use) existing outside the MCU is problematic.

Though without Spider-Man?

That’s more than a problem; that’s a disaster for Sony.  For Marvel?

Not so much, especially when you take into account that while they never actually needed Spider-Man he’s back (albeit temporarily) and the MCU version has appeared in Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming and with three movies on the way (Avengers: Infinity War, an untitled Avengers movie as well as a sequel to Homecoming).

If Sony were smart–or smarter, after all they did have the foresight to cut this deal with Marvel Studios–they would ensure that the Spiderverse remain in the MCU with a deal a similar to that that they reached with Spider-Man (which would probably have Marvel Studios getting a cut of the box office, perhaps in exchange for contributing to the costs of production).

It’s certainly worth a thought.

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Sorority Row – Review

“There are worse ways to spend an hour and forty minutes.  Unfortunately for Sorority Row, there are also better ones.”

Stewart Hendler’s Sorority Row harkens back to (better) slasher movies like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream, and makes as much sense as either though both of those movies at least had a bit of innovation going for them, and while the snark of Sorority Row is always welcome, it’s not enough of a differentiator to elevate the movie.

Though things begin interestingly enough, when the members of Phi Theta sorority pull a particularly mean-spirited prank on the brother of one of their members that ends in a very real death.

Soon the girls are being bumped off one by one, seemingly by the person who was the victim of their prank gone awry (mostly in visually interesting, though practically impossible, ways). Sounds familiar?  It should because it’s a plot device that been used every since Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, mainly because when it works, you don’t see any of the many moving parts that need to be in sync for it to work.

Which Sorority Row, for the most part, doesn’t.

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Spider-Man Returns To The Marvel Cinematic Universe: The Morning After

Spider-Man, climbing

A few hours ago I wrote a piece for MoviePilot about Spider-Man’s return to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), and overall I am pretty happy about the way things have turned out.  Technically speaking, it’s not quite Spider-Man returning to where he belongs, but under the circumstances it’s probably as good as it’s going to get.

That being said, there are caveats.  The most significant in my eyes being that Avi Arad is still going to be involved with the franchise, though in an Executive Producer capacity–prior he was a producer.  The problem is that Arad supposedly forced Sam Raimi to shoehorn in another villain to Spider-Man 3 (a move that pissed off Sam Raimi so much that he hired Topher Grace to play Eddie Brock/Venom for no other reason than Arad DIDN’T want him in the role) resulting in the the weakest of Raimi’s three Spider-Man movies, critically speaking–though in Arad’s defense, it was the highest grossing Spider-Man movie.

Another is that Kevin Feige is producing with Amy Pascal, the former Chairperson of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), who also produced Marc Webb’s tone deaf The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Despite TASM2 Webb is a pretty talented director, though perhaps not the right person for the franchise) and let Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman and their mediocre magic-blood filled writing virtually ruin the franchise.

Though hopefully Feige will be able to keep things under control, after all he has done exceedingly well guiding the course of the MCU (that being said, part of the deal is for the next Spider-Man to be produced by Sony–Feige and Pascal remaining as producers–with Spidey meeting with his compatriots from the Marvel’s end of the street, which begs the question:  With the contracts for many of the heavy-hitters in the MCU expiring (such as Robert Downey, Jr./Iron Man and Chris Evans/Captain America) then who is Sony expecting to turn up in their movie?

Though the best news of all is that this pretty much puts the kibosh on any Aunt May spy dramas that were under consideration by Sony.

Is Sony Mismanaging The Spider-Man Franchise?

Part 1: Send In The B-Team

Looking at Marvel today, it would be easy to assume that they have always been as successful as they are.  Though you’d be wrong because, before they were purchased by Disney, even before they launched their movie production arm, Marvel Studios, they were flirting with bankruptcy.

To stop the bleeding, they licensed the rights to their most successful characters to 21st Century Fox, Sony, Universal and New Line (Marvel received a percentage every time a film was produced with their heroes).

So 21st Century got the X-Men and related characters (and exclusive use of the term ‘mutants’) as well as the Fantastic Four.  Sony got Spider-Man and related characters, while Universal had the Hulk and Namor the Submariner (Marvel’s Namor in terms of his abilities is similar to DC’s Aquaman, except stronger and more awesome).

But Marvel knew that no one could exploit their characters better than they could, so they threw the ultimate ‘Hail Mary’ pass.  To get a loan to build their own studio they borrowed on the strength of their remaining characters.

In other words, it was time for the B-Team to take the field, and Iron Man was released in 2008.  The movie was directed by John Favreau and starred Robert Downey Jr–an actor who at the time was known more of his drug use than his acting ability–and went on to earn almost $600 million (on a $140 million dollar production budget).

Marvel Studios was born, and they were eventually purchased by the Walt Disney Company for $4 billion dollars in 2009 (some analysts thought Disney had overpaid. They were wrong.).

Part 2: Raimi’s Spider-Man Films

As I said earlier Sony licensed Marvel’s Spider-Man and in 2002 released Spider-Man.  Sam Raimi, known primarily for the Evil Dead series of movies, was chosen to direct.  He cast  Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker and Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson.  The first film cost $139 million to produce, and earned almost $822 million dollars worldwide; a very tidy profit.

Spider-Man 2, introduced Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) and was considered the best in the series.  It was more expensive than the first film, clocking in at $200 million and eventually pulled in almost $784 million dollars worldwide.

Still profitable, though not quite as much as the first film.

Spider-Man 3, the last film in the series directed by Raimi, cost $258 million, and earned almost $891 million dollars.  What set it apart from the earlier films was that it featured three villains, Sandman, Venom and the New Goblin (that’s actually what the character is called on IMDB).  Raimi fully expected to direct Spider-Man 4–even after being forced by producer Avi Arad to use Venom, a character he didn’t want in the movie, or like for that matter.  In retribution he cast Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom because Arad thought he was a bad choice for the role.

Spider-Man 3 did very well, despite being the worse reviewed of the series.  Sam Raimi was apparently prepping the fourth film in the series, before his deal fell through.  As a result he was out and the entire franchise rebooted just five years later.

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