According to Sony Picture's press release, Director Sam Raimi and actors Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst are all axed from the movie and the release date has been pushed to Summer 2012.
Apparently Raimi was having creative differences with the script as it was written. He felt he couldn't complete the movie by the originally scheduled release date of May 2011 and keep the film's "creative integrity." In Hollywood-speak, he hated it.
Once Raimi walked, Tobey and Dunst were out as well.
Sony will instead "reboot" the franchise, going back to the time when Peter Parker was still in high school and dealing with the duality of having super powers in a teenage body.
There is also word that director James Cameron, who had written a spec script for the Spidey franchise MIGHT be replacing Rami, and that the film will be shot in 3D.
Thanks to the runaway success of Avatar, Hollywood is foaming at the mouth for more 3D films. in a Forbes magazine article in April of last year, Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton and co-chairman Amy Pascal dropped a hint that they might be thinking about Spidey in 3D:
"People are paying a premium to see movies in 3-D and that's a very big deal. It's never been done before that someone says you have to pay more to see Spider-Man than a romantic comedy."
And of course, that quote was all it took to get the rumor mill cranked up.
So now the director and the cast are out, and there's a possibility that Cameron may be in, the film will be shot in 3D. To be able to do that, production is going to have to scrap its original plans and re-tool things. The speculation is that it will take at least 6 months to do that, which is why Sony has pushed the release to 2012.
What this means more than anything is that we're going to have a good two years of wild speculation and rumor mongering/ hype about this movie until its finally released in the theaters.
But two years from now, will people still be interested in paying extra to see 3D? One of the things that was nice about "Avatar" was the fact that the 3D helped to make you feel more embedded into the environment of the film, rather than the typical throw-everything-in-your-face kind of 3D that we've all seen before.
It's a safe bet that Hollywood will be looking to exploit/abuse this technology a lot more in the future, so expect a lot of films to be churned out that don't have this subtlety. Forget story or content. Just make sure that everything gets thrown at the camera to make the audience react. Regardless of how its used, its still a gimmick.
Here's Sony's press release:
Culver City, CA (January 11, 2010) -- Peter Parker is going back to high school when the next Spider-Man hits theaters in the summer of 2012. Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios announced today they are moving forward with a film based on a script by James Vanderbilt that focuses on a teenager grappling with both contemporary human problems and amazing super-human crises.
The new chapter in the Spider-Man franchise produced by Columbia, Marvel Studios and Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin, will have a new cast and filmmaking team. Spider-Man 4 was to have been released in 2011, but had not yet gone into production.
“A decade ago we set out on this journey with Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire and together we made three Spider-Man films that set a new bar for the genre. When we began, no one ever imagined that we would make history at the box-office and now we have a rare opportunity to make history once again with this franchise. Peter Parker as an ordinary young adult grappling with extraordinary powers has always been the foundation that has made this character so timeless and compelling for generations of fans. We’re very excited about the creative possibilities that come from returning to Peter's roots and we look forward to working once again with Marvel Studios, Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin on this new beginning,” said Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
“Working on the Spider-Man movies was the experience of a lifetime for me. While we were looking forward to doing a fourth one together, the studio and Marvel have a unique opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction, and I know they will do a terrific job,” said Sam Raimi.
“We have had a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration and friendship with Sam and Tobey and they have given us their best for the better part of the last decade.This is a bittersweet moment for us because while it is hard to imagine Spider-Man in anyone else’s hands, I know that this was a day that was inevitable,” said Matt Tolmach, president of Columbia Pictures, who has served as the studio’s chief production executive since the beginning of the franchise. “Now everything begins anew, and that’s got us all tremendously excited about what comes next. Under the continuing supervision of Avi and Laura, we have a clear vision for the future of Spider-Man and can’t wait to share this exciting new direction with audiences in 2012.”
"Spider-Man will always be an important franchise for Sony Pictures and a fresh start like this is a responsibility that we all take very seriously," said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures. "We have always believed that story comes first and story guides the direction of these films and as we move onto the next chapter, we will stay true to that principle and will do so with the highest respect for the source material and the fans and moviegoers who deserve nothing but the best when it comes to bringing these stories and characters to life on the big screen."
The studio will have more news about Spider-Man in 2012 in the coming weeks as it prepares for production of the film.