I just saw the trailer for the new AMAZING SPIDER-MAN due out next year. It was way too familiar for me. Seeing a reboot so soon after just starting the last series seems a bit odd. I felt similarly about BATMAN BEGINS and it has been 8 years since the last sequel (1997’s BATMAN AND ROBIN). In this case it will have only been 5 years since SPIDER-MAN 3 and 10 years since the last franchise even started.

As an audience, we psychologically make a commitment to the characters, which means continuity of actors is far more important than film companies believe. It’s also really annoying to see the same origin story over and over again.

Why would a company like Columbia (owned by Sony) do this? I will tell you why… 

Sony has an “option” on the rights to the character from Marvel Comics. Sony has made over $2.5 billion on box office alone, excluding home video and television rights worldwide. This is big business. If Sony did not get into production on another SPIDER-MAN film and have it on screen in 2012, all rights to make a movie based on the character would revert back to Marvel.

Marvel Comics started their own film production company called Marvel Films. First they released IRON MAN in 2008 to huge success, and not so great success with PUNISHER WAR ZONE and THE INCREDIBLE HULK, but back to form with THOR, IRON MAN II, and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. Next year’s THE AVENGERS looks to be an enormous movie event, meaning gobs and gobs of money.

Both IRON MAN movies were distributed by Paramount, THE INCREDIBLE HULK by Universal, but Marvel produced them. SPIDER-MAN was produced by Sony via Columbia Pictures, so they are taking the financial risks and also reaped the financial rewards for distribution.

Similarly, the X-MEN movies are at 20th Century Fox, and the reason they rushed X-MEN FIRST CLASS was because they tried to slip X-MEN ORIGINS WOLVERINE as a part of their contract with Marvel for X-Men films and it didn’t qualify. So now they could not wait for Bryan Singer’s schedule to open up to direct X-MEN FIRST CLASS and had to rush it into production as fast as possible – just to maintain the rights.

Marvel Films has now been scooped up by Disney. So all the studios that have the rights to Marvel comics characters are rebooting or launching a movie just to keep the rights in their company. So Columbia may not care that the audience could rebel against such a hasty reboot of Spider-man.

In the case of 20th Century Fox’s other Marvel franchise, the FANTASTIC FOUR, it has a history of rights changing hands in the 1980’s and 1990’s. At one point, B-Movie legend Roger Corman owned the rights. He made a $400,000 feature film without the intent to ever release it – just to keep the rights because they sold them later for $1.2 million.

Warner Brothers owns D.C. comics, so Green Lantern, Batman, Super-man, Wonder Woman et al already have a film/television home.

Categories: articles

Peter John Ross

A filmmaker, a dreamer, and the world's only Dan Akroyd Cosplayer


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