When is a movie which has grossed $700 million worldwide considered a failure?
The answer is when the movie in question was expected to make $1 billion worldwide, or so the thinking currently goes in response to a rumor that Sony has pushed The Amazing Spider-Man 3 back a year to 2017. To be clear, all we are going off of is the following sentence casually snuck into the bottom of an Ain’t It Cool report about Warner Bros. upcoming DC films:
As for the Marvel orphans at Fox and Sony, I don’t know much about the latter, but I have been told that THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3 (ASM 3) has been moved to an undetermined date in 2017.
Ain’t It Cool has been at this game longer than everyone meaning they’re now a source you can trust while also remembering all those times they were wrong about something. The reaction around the internet to their report has been to assume that if ASM 3 is being pushed back that must mean that Sony will move either its Sinister Six (from Drew Goddard) or Venom (from Alex Kurtzman) film into that 2016 slot. After all, everyone is basically chasing Marvel Studios’ tale and reaching for the hallowed lands of having at least one franchise film released every year. Disney is planning one new Star Wars film ever year from 2015-2019, Fox just started that this year with X-Men: Days of Future Past, planning for their X-Men films to now alternate years with the Fantastic Four ones, and if Nikki Finke is to be believed Warner Bros. has DC films planned through 2018. Sony was aiming for the same exact thing, starting with ASM 3 in 2016 to be followed by ASM 4 in 2018 and Sinister Six and Venom falling somewhere in-between. If ASM 3 is being delayed Sony’s most likely move would be to simply move up Sinister Six, especially since its writer/director Drew Goddard just left the Netflix Daredevil series to focus on Six.
Is ASM 2 really doing that poorly?
When director Marc Webb and Sony acknowledged our collective short-term memory and rebooted the Spider-Man film franchise a mere 5 years and two months (give or take a couple of days) after Spider-Man 3, they did good, just not Sam Raimi Spider-Man good. That’s pretty much what you’d expect, though, since Spider-Man 3 had made so much money while being liked by so few thus leaving some long-lasting damage to our collective faith in the franchise. So,The Amazing Spider-Man, which it must be said had to compete at the box office against The Dark Knight Rises, ended up making $752 million worldwide against a production budget of roughly $230 million. This total is less than any one of the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man films, even before adjusting for inflation, but it was still good enough business to warrant a sequel.
However, was it really good enough to demand 3 sequels, one of which neither Marc Webb nor Andrew Garfield even knew about beforehand, and 2 spin-offs? Maybe, if ASM 1 was the start of a new franchise which would grow, like Batman Begins to The Dark Knight. However, Amazing Spider-Man 2 is no Dark Knight, and has now topped out at $197 million domestic, 47% of which came from its opening weekend. Both its worldwide ($700 million vs. $752 million) and domestic ($197 million vs. $269 million) totals are lower than ASM 1‘s, and this is now the fourth straight Spider-Man film to make less domestically than the Spider-Man movie that came before it. On top of all that, ASM 2 is the worst-reviewed film in franchise history (even worse than Spider-Man 3!). Simply put: people don’t seem to like this movie, and while the foreign box office figures are good ($500 million) they’re mostly flat with ASM 1 ($495 million). So, if the little-liked ASM 2 struggles to make it to $200 million domestic, which is now the minimum acceptable domestic gross for a film which itself cost at least $200 million to make, what kind of embarrassment could be in store for Sony if they stick with the plan to have ASM 3 out in just 2 years?
There is another option beside simply pushing ASM 3 back and replacing it with Venom: blowing the whole thing up, let’s call the whole thing off. However, that seems unlikely.
As does what Nikki Finke, formerly of Deadline.com, let loose about the films Warner Bros./DC is apparently going to announce (along with release dates) at this year’s Comic-Con:
- May 2016 – Batman Vs. Superman
- July 2016 – Shazam
- Christmas 2016 – Sandman
- May 2017 – Justice League
- July 2017 – Wonder WOman
- Xmas 2017 – Untitled Green Lantern/The Flash Team-Up
- May 2018 – Man of Steel 2
Finke further reports that Batman Vs. Superman was delayed due to contractual issues with the Justice League actors making cameos in BvS, and that Ryan Reynolds is not getting asked back to play Green Lantern.
Warner Bros. is desperate for franchises right now, thus their upcoming J.K. Rowling-penned Harry Potter spin-off film series based upon a one-off, glorified textbook Rowling once wrote for charity. However, what Finke is suggesting sounds insane, not when all of this is meant to spring out of Man of Steel, which made $688 million worldwide on an official (read: intentionally under-reported) budget of $225 million. If this is truly the level of commitment Warner Bros. is planning to make toward getting their DC films off the ground it’s great for fans of comic book movies, and I personally know I’d likely end up seeing every single one of these things, except for maybe Shazam. However, Warner Bros. supposedly releasing 3 new DC films in 2016 and then doing the same thing again in 2017? Come on – not even Marvel Studios is quite up to releasing that many comic book films a year. Sony’s strategy with Spider-Man is the model of restraint compared to what Finke suggest WB is up to, and look at how well that’s working out for Sony right now.
I’ll believe both of these things – Sony pushing back ASM 3 and WB going crazy with DC mania- when I actually see it, but at the moment I can more buy the Sony story than the WB one. We’ll see what we learn should either of these stories (or both) transition from the realm of rumors.
What do you think? Are you cool with waiting 3 years to see Andrew Garfield again? Do you think I’m crazy, and that Finke’s report about WB is right on the money? Let us know in the comments section.