The best geek news of the week comes right at the end, as Nikki Finke is reporting that Sony Pictures has signed director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire to return to the Spider-Manfranchise for a fourth installment. Finke is reporting that Sony wants to get filming to get underway next fall for a proposed May 2011 release.
Although Sony is keen to have her back, Maguire’s co-star Kirsten Dunst has reportedly not reached a deal with the studio. Sony is also reportedly exploring the idea of filming a fifth installment back-to-back with part 4 to save on production costs.
In our excitement, though, one has to wonder what changed everyone’s mind about returning to the franchise. At the time of the release of Spider-Man 3, it seemed that Raimi, Maguire and Dunst were all looking at moving on from the superhero series. Was there something in the script for a fourth installment that Sony already has in hand from Zodiacscribe Jamie Vanderbilt that excited them, or did Sony find a big enough dumptruck full of money to back up at their houses?
Personally, I’m thrilled that Raimi is getting at least one more shot at a Spider-Man film. While the first two he directed in the series were two of the best comic book adaptations up their time, Spider-Man 3 was a troubled film. As is often the case when a franchise becomes successful, the number of executives wanting to contribute “creative” ideas seems to grow exponentially, and Spider-Man was no exception. The chief culprit here is, in my opinion, Avi Arad, who had shepherded many of the other current films adapting Marvel Comics characters, who reportedly pressered Raimi into including the villain Venom. It was clear that Raimi was not interested in the character and his inclusion throws off the balance of the film’s other storylines.
With Spider-Man 4‘s hoped for production start being a year away, I have to wonder if Raimi will manage to squeeze out one more film in the interim. Raimi has recently talked about making a fourth installment in his other fan favorite franchise, the Evil Dead series. He also was developing a re-launch of the Jack Ryan series for Paramount, who is anxious to have the film in theaters in 2010. Unfortunately, if he bows to Paramount’s pressure to get the Jack Ryan film done first, that would push a potential Evil Dead 4 back to sometime in 2012. Not groovey.