Monday, May 26, 2014
It's been a few days, but yes, Marvel's Ant-Man shockingly won't be directed by Edgar Wright anymore...
Right now, we don't have the real truth... Some people might think we do and have already prematurely written the Marvel Cinematic Universe's obituary...
The first sort of "insider" report that got out essentially said that despite how much Marvel Studios liked what Edgar Wright was going for, he was behind schedule and time was running out. It's no secret that Ant-Man was a passion project for Mr. Wright for a long while. It was then part of Marvel Studios' slate for a long while, in fact after Iron Man opened in May 2008, the announced slate said that Ant-Man would be a Phase 2 movie that would come after The Avengers, which was then set for a July 2011 release.
When Iron Man opened, it had been a year since Hot Fuzz had opened. However, Wright went on to direct Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which would open in 2010. Marvel Studios modified their cinematic universe to suit Wright's film, writing out key things like Hank Pym being Ultron's creator. Marvel went that extra mile. After Scott Pilgrim, Wright went to direct the final installment in his Cornetto trilogy, The World's End, released in 2013. Marvel respected his wishes and kept pushing Ant-Man back, finally concluding that it would be the kick off film to Phase 3.
So some of us speculated that maybe Wright wasn't ready to take on a big scale project like this, or he was just really behind schedule. The panic button-slamming alarmists immediately assumed that Marvel Studios just got egotistical, or got worried about making weird/risky films, contradicting the fact that something like Guardians of the Galaxy is a thing that's coming out this summer... And not to mention it's written and directed by James Gunn!
Outside of the alarmist world that is most of the Internet, we all thought... Hey maybe Wright and Marvel had to part ways, something just wasn't working. After all, Feige & co. supported his vision for nearly decade. What James Gunn also had to say supports this...
But then Latino Review got a (still unconfirmed, mind you) scoop that basically said that Marvel gave Wright notes that ultimately went against his vision... However, these notes really weren't Feige & co's doing. The real evil is... Corporate Disney! But that doesn't seem right either, hasn't Disney been hands-off with their acquisitions?
Already, people are quick to yell, "But Pixar! Look at them! Sequels! Their new movies aren't good!"
But those are people who don't know why Toy Story 3, Monsters University and Finding Dory exist in the first place. (And I'm not gonna say it again, because it's getting redundant now.) Cars? That's the one film they made into their Ice Age-esque franchise: Makes money, makes Disney happy, it funds future projects. Disney isn't controlling what Pixar is doing. Brave was a troubled production.
That being said, Bob Iger wanted Star Wars Episode VII out by 2015 or else... That's a bit concerning. It also didn't help that was revealed when Michael Arndt left the project and director J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan had to rewrite the script. That was last autumn... Reportedly Lucasfilm wanted to have it ready by 2016, but the higher ups said no. Disney also plans to have a Star Wars film released every summer, as the first spin-off has been slated for December 16, 2016. Instead of a three-year wait between each trilogy entry, we now have a 1 1/2-2 year wait. Episode VIII will arrive in 2017 and Episode IX will arrive in 2019, with spin-offs in-between...
Come on now, why the rush?
But one thing I've noticed is that Disney isn't involved with the actual productions, and maybe J.J. Abrams and co. knew what to do. Apparently the script was in good enough shape before April. The event is filming as we speak... Still, the Disney executives could've backed off and given them some time, no?
I understand that Disney is excited about the money that the franchise will bring, but rushing to it could jeopardize it for fans and audiences. Say goodbye to potentially record-breaking grosses! If anything, why couldn't they just wait and let Abrams & co. work their magic? Must I mention that scene from Toy Story 2 again?
If Disney indeed had something to do with Edgar Wright's walk from Ant-Man and Marvel, then my frustrations with the Bob Iger era will come to a boil. But I can't declare that all is lost, because Episode VII for all we care can turn out to be a masterpiece. I wouldn't doubt it, and who knows what's actually going on with Ant-Man. What I've liked about the Iger era is that the filmmakers got to do their own thing...
Walt Disney Animation Studios is firing on all cylinders again because of it. In the mid 1990s, Michael Eisner put several executives in charge of the soaring studio. Fresh off the success of The Lion King, no less! But then Disney Animation saw a slow decline, with films regurgitating what we saw in the likes of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King, just playing it safe. When that formula wore thin, Disney was then working on films that weren't big Broadway musical/love story/good guy vs. bad guy stories... That plan was shot in the foot, as executives completely meddled with films that could've been really good and single-handedly ruined traditional animation in the process.
But Iger has been hands off, and look what they're making! Meet The Robinsons, for me, started this great new era we're going through. Most will trace it back to about 2008-2010...
Pixar? Aside from the Cars pact and the legal issues leading to the creation of Toy Story 3, Monsters University and Finding Dory, they're doing fine. Brave encountered problems because it was a troubled production, what animation studio or live action film studio hasn't experienced one of those? Pixar has been around for nearly 30 years, they were bound to release a film that wasn't perfect. They're still working on originals. Also, most critics liked Brave and Monsters University. The consensus was, "Not as good as the other Pixar films but still good." When did that translate to horrible? Oh wait, it only does on the Internet.
Marvel's being doing their thing up until now. Guardians of the Galaxy managed to get made and is highly anticipated... Something just doesn't add up, why would Disney want to interfere with the movies themselves? Not just the studios' schedules, but why the films?
The Star Wars thing is the only shred of evidence I've seen that Iger & co. are interfering with one of the studios, but they aren't interfering with the creative process. They're pressing Lucasfilm to get the new trilogy and set of spin-offs fired up, but they aren't sticking their spoons into the broth... Yet. Let's hope they don't, Iger's tenure ends in two years and up until now, he's been pretty good in the "stay out of the production process" business. Let's hope he keeps it that way, because if you let the creatives do their thing, you win.
That's something the likes of Avi Arad and Tom Rothman don't understand...
Speaking of Arad, what the hell is going on with The Amazing Spider-Man series?
Drew Goddard, who was supposed to be the showrunner for Marvel Studios' upcoming Daredevil Netflix series, is off the project. Now people of course were quick to assume that the Marvel machine screwed him over, but no, he's off the project because of The Sinister Six.
Goddard was tapped to write and direct that Spider-Man spin-off film for Sony before Marvel Studios brought him on board for Daredevil. I like Goddard, but I couldn't care any less about The Sinister Six. The only thing about it that interests me is how Sony will screw it up, since in my eyes they already screwed up The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
But here's another thing... The Sinister Six is set to start filming in January 2015. You know what this tells me? The Amazing Spider-Man 3, currently set for a June 2016 release, is actually The Sinister Six.
How would it not be? Heck, we haven't heard much on the third "Spider-Man" movie anyways other than some words from director Marc Webb. But that's about it... Will they come out the same year, perhaps? Well, Sony's Spider-Man slate has the third film and a fourth film film scheduled for 2018. Nothing else.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is going to finish up with less than $210 million at the domestic box office, which is very embarrassing considering that it was coming off of a pretty well-liked reboot (that managed to hold on at the box office) and that the Raimi films all grossed more than $330 million domestically. I can see why, I thought the film was an absolute mess and I get the sense that a lot of moviegoers now don't care about what will happen next. That's what happens when you cram so much into one film instead of focusing on a cohesive story that further develops the characters.
Worldwide, it's also in trouble. Sony apparently needed this film to gross more than $755 million, but it's not going to hit that. Is it flop? Perhaps, but more a disappointment.
One of two things, I think, will happen at this point...
A) Sony gives the rights back to Disney.
B) Sony dials down the budgets for future films.
A modestly-budgeted Amazing Spider-Man 3, no matter how good or bad it is, can still make a profit and Sony can keep making Spidey flicks. That being said, audiences will stop going little by little. If the second film had a hard time reaching $200 million off of a $91 million opening, the next one will completely miss it...
Prior to The Amazing Spider-Man 2's opening, Sony's plan was to do a third film, a Sinister Six spin-off, a Venom spin-off and a fourth film. What will happen to their dwindling series now that part two hasn't really done well?
I have a feeling that Sony will just go for broke and have Amazing Spider-Man 3 and The Sinister Six mashed together... Or The Sinister Six will be the 2016 release and The Amazing Spider-Man 3 will end everything in 2018 with Peter Parker taking on the six-man gang, with no Venom spin-off following. Sony's higher ups apparently didn't learn from Spider-Man 3, so I'm not convinced that they'll let Marc Webb or Drew Goddard make their movies. What happened to Spider-Man 4 is more than telling.
Heck, Webb didn't get to make his movie with the last one and apparently the first one as well. Supposedly, there's a superior director's cut of Amazing Spider-Man 2 but I doubt it's an improvement over what was unraveled before us this month. Unless the director's cut writes out Electro or Green Goblin's transformation, I won't be too interested in seeing it. Even if one does exist, would Sony even release it?
No, I think Avi "I'm the MCU mastermind!" Arad and all those Sony exec bandits will just meddle with Goddard's film and Webb's next film. Webb is set to direct a third Spider-Man movie and Andrew Garfield is contracted to appear as Spidey. That film will happen, but I expect the budget on it to be lower, ditto The Sinister Six.
So I think this is what will end up happening... The Sinister Six comes in summer 2016, and it does not feature Spider-Man, at all. No, not even a quick Peter Parker appearance - Garfield's only signed on for three films. The movie hastily introduces Doc Ock, Kraven the Hunter, Chameleon and the Vulture. Then The Amazing Spider-Man 3 comes in summer 2018 and pits Spider-Man against the six, ending everything on a messy note. By the time three comes out, audience interest is mostly down and the films underperform. The rights immediately go back to Disney after the third one opens.
Now it would be freakish to see Sony step back and let Marc Webb and Drew Goddard attempt to fix things up with their films and address the problems with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It would be, but Marvel Studios is calling, it's high time the web-slinger goes back to where he belongs. If the director's cut of part two is in fact a solid film that Sony butchered for theatrical release, then I'd be a little less harsh on the upcoming films. At the same time though, I think Spidey should just be allowed to go back home.
What say you?