With $530 million worldwide in the bank for “The Amazing Spider-Man” and that figure set to grow even higher (even if “The Dark Knight Rises” is looming in the near distance), Sony can feel confident that their plans for a proposed trilogy of the rebooted franchise are off to a strong start. With a 2014 release date already slated for the sequel, the wheels are going to have to start turning soon on that one, but it seems the studio will need to find a new director.
When we talked to Webb recently and asked him about returning, he said that he’s “had conversations,” but added that “It’s like asking a woman who’s just given birth if they want to get pregnant again. I’m still nursing the baby!” But it seems more practical reasons are being proffered about why he might not return. “We’d really like him back, but there are obstacles. He has an obligation to Fox,” Columbia Pictures chief Doug Belgrad told THR, referring to the film that Webb stills owes Fox, after releasing “(500) Days of Summer” via Fox Searchlight.
But is that the only reason no one is in a rush to sign Webb back on? And is this a big smoke screen for something larger at play? As we outlined after the film came out, rumbles of Sony being unhappy with the picture were beginning to spill out beyond the studio walls.
Many of their issues with Webb’s then-in-progress are byproducts of problems we detailed in our The Good The Bad The Ugly feature. Forced to wrestle with studio demands, the compromised “The Amazing Spider-Man” clearly went through some post-production trauma that found plotlines and characters — some of which were featured in trailers and stills for the movie — axed or reworked, sometimes incomprehensibly. And when asked if there were problems on ‘Spider-Man,’ Belgrad hinted that Webb’s lack of experience with effects might have been a hindrance. “The section where Rhys Ifans‘ character turns irrevocably into the Lizard. It took several months to figure out, and the filmmakers cut a bunch of scenes. In software parlance, it required a patch,” he said.
With “Transformers” writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci being hired this spring to write the follow-up, it’s clear that Sony wants more bang and boom in part two, and Webb may not be the right person for where they want to go next. As for Webb, he told us he is working on “Age of Rage,” a Fox Searchlight film he signed on for in January 2011. Penned by “Black Swan” scribe Marc Heyman, the movie is described as “Children of Men” meets “Lord of the Flies” and is set in a near post-apocalyptic future and tells the story of a virus that kills everyone over the age of 18, forcing a group of teenagers to band together to find the cure. So it seems like spectacle but on a character-driven scale, which Webb displayed he can handle very well during the best moments of ‘Spider-Man.’ But again, whether this will be Webb’s next effort remains to be seen.
We’ll likely have some kind of answer soon as “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (or whatever it will be called) is slated to hit theaters on May 2, 2014.