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Marvel Helps Sony Find a New Spider-Man, Director

Marvel Helps Sony Find a New Spider-Man, Director

Among the many changes that have hit Sony since the Hack Attack, one was going to happen anyway. Ex-studio chief Amy Pascal was already negotiating with Marvel to bring them into the next “Spider-Man” movie. When she moved on to her lucrative producing deal, one of her first priorities was casting Peter Parker and finding a new director. 

When she and Marvel’s Kevin Feige announced that Tom Holland, the 19-year-old British star of “The Impossible” and PBS series “Wolf Hall” is the new Spider-Man, and horror-comedy writer-director Jon Watts would direct the untitled reboot, clearly, Marvel called the shots here. 

Casting Holland, a fine young actor (“Billy Elliott: The Musical”) who earned raves in “The Impossible” as a young boy trying to survive a tsunami with his mother (Naomi Watts) is within the range of possibility for Sony. He has earned some acting bonafides and is a strapping, handsome young lad. Holland also stars in Ron Howard’s upcoming “In the Heart of the Sea,” and submitted to a series of challenging screen tests.   

But there’s no way a major studio would have entrusted the “Spider-Man” franchise to little-known writer-director Watts (“Clown,” “The Onion News Network”) who landed the job on the basis of his Sundance 2015 thriller “Cop Car,” which while well-received, has yet to open (digital label Focus World is set to release) and is not a critical and box office breakout on the order of Marc Webb’s “(500) Days of Summer.”

Instead, Watts boasts a set of skills–like comic timing–that Feige is convinced he can bank on, as long as he’s at the tiller as producer. Feige has the confidence to know what he needs and how to get it. Studios rarely take those risks.

Marvel stays in complete control of their projects. If a director isn’t hewing to the script, then they’re out. See Edgar Wright on “Ant-Man,” which opens July 17, directed by Peyton Reed, another director, like Jon Favreau, James Gunn, and Joss Whedon who has comedy chops. Achieving that Marvel tone is key to maintaining the consistency of the universe that audiences have come to take for granted. They know when it feels right. “As with James Gunn, Joss Whedon, and the Russo brothers, we love finding new and exciting voices to bring these characters to life,” said Feige. “We spent a lot of time with Jon and find his take and work inspiring.”
“Spider-Man”‘s five films so far have grossed more than $4 billion worldwide. Sony Pictures will finance and release worldwide the next “Spider-Man” on July 28, 2017.

Thomas Stanley Holland was born in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey. His mother is a photographer and his father is a comedian and author. Holland attended Donhead Prep School, Wimbledon College and the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology. He studied dance and made his West End debut in “Billy Elliot the Musical” as Michael, Billy’s best friend and went on to play Billy as well. 

Holland earned strong plaudits for his role in true survival story “The Impossible,” directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, alongside Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. In 2011, Holland delivered the voice of Sho in the British version of Studio Ghibli’s animated feature “Arrietty.” In 2012, Tom Holland played Isaac in Kevin Macdonald’s “How I Lived Now” alongside Saoirse Ronan. He has several films coming up including indie “Pilgrimage” and “Back Country” and Howard’s “In the Heart of the Sea.” 

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