Cameras aren’t scheduled to begin rolling on the fourth installment of Sony Pictures’s Spider-Man comic-book franchise, but the studio has already hired a writer to begin working on a fifth and sixth installment of the series.
James Vanderbilt, who wrote the initial drafts for Spider-Man 4, has been tapped by the studio to pen the next two installments of the series, which the studio intends to have interconnecting storylines and possibly be shot back to back. When talks began about a fourth installment for the franchise, the idea of filming a fourth and fifth film back-to-back was briefly entertained.
I’ll have to admit that it is nice to see a studio looking to more than just the most recent upcoming installment of a franchise.there are a couple of ways that things could play out for the studio with the Spider-Man franchise, but getting a writer on board now for the next two installments gives them some flexibility.
Getting director Sam Raimi and stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst back on board for the upcoming fourth installment took some work, which each of them saying that they weren’t interested in coming back if the other two weren’t going to be involved. It is quite possible that by the end of production they will decide that four films are enough and that they don’t want to commit to another two. If that were the case, Sony could have a new director already working at casting and pre-production on 5 & 6, while Raimi and crew are still finishing off Spidey 4, thus cutting down the number of summers between installments. (Previously, there was a two year wait between the first and second Spider-Man films and a three year wait for the third. By the time Spider-Man 4 reaches theaters in May 2011, four years will have passed.)
Raimi’s participation may also hinge on other commitments. He signed to helm an adaptation of the online role-playing game “World Of Warcraft” shortly after he joined Spider-Man 4, so he may contractually have that obligation to take care of first before being free to direct any more Spider-Man films. And it is possible that Sony would want to get a start sooner than Raimi would be available.
Conversely, Raimi, Maguire and Dunst had all voiced doubts about returning to the series after completing the third film, so it is possible that they may be game to return for a big, two-part finale to wrap up their participation in the franchise. If that were the case, Sony would already have the scripts ready to go. Even if Raimi would want some rewrites – he has already had writers David Lindsay-Abaire and Gary Ross take passes through Vanderbilt’s Part 4 screenplay – they would still be ahead of the game than if they were starting from scratch.
Of course, there is the question of whether the public has had enough of Spider-Man. I don’t think they have. Even though it received mixed reviews from the critics (earning a 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) with the strongest negative words coming from the geek sector, Spider-Man 3 still managed to pull nearly $337 million at the US box office. Spider-Man 4 will do good box office, especially as it will kick off a summer of superhero flicks that is scheduled to include Thor, Green Lantern and Captain America. But even if Spider-Man 5 & 6 were to feature new actors in the lead roles of Peter Parker and love interest Mary Jane Watson, a mammoth, two-part film event could conceivably generate enough interest to get folks lining up for tickets.