The fourth of July hits in the middle of the week this year, and to take full advantage of what’s often a huge long weekend for tentpole movies, Columbia is releasing its 3D reboot, “The Amazing Spider-Man,” on a Tuesday, July 3rd. There were a lot of questions about this one. When a planned “Spider-Man 4,” to star Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, again directed by Sam Raimi, imploded, Sony announced that the planned sequel was being scrapped and that the franchise would be rebooted.
Soon after, plans for an entirely new movie, taking Peter Parker back to high school, were announced. The new movie would feature an entirely new cast directed by Marc Webb, whose “(500) Days of Summer” had attracted a lot of attention. It would also be shot in 3D. Was it too early for a reboot? Would people turn out for a retelling of an origin story? On top of that, rumors abounded that the new, untitled reboot would be shot on a much lower budget than the quarter billion dollar, scriptless wonder “Spider-Man 3.”
Casting attracted a lot of attention. Eventually, Andrew Garfield (“Never Let Me Go,” “The Social Network”) was announced as Peter Parker, and Emma Stone (“Zombieland,” “Easy A,” “The Help”) was announced as the love interest, who would not be Mary Jane Watson but Gwen Stacy, an earlier girlfriend from the comic books.
The completed movie is ready to hit theatres. The official synopsis is as follows:
One of the world’s most popular characters is back on the big screen as a new chapter in the Spider-Man legacy is revealed in The Amazing Spider-Man™. Focusing on an untold story that tells a different side of the Peter Parker story, the new film stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, with Martin Sheen and Sally Field. The film is directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay written by James Vanderbilt and Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves from a story by James Vanderbilt, based on the Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Laura Ziskin, Avi Arad, and Matt Tolmach are producing the film in association with Marvel Entertainment for Columbia Pictures, which will open in theaters everywhere in 3D on July 3, 2012.
The Amazing Spider-Man is the story of Peter Parker (Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Sheen) and Aunt May (Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Ifans), his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.
“The Amazing Spider-Man” is seen in some quarters as competing with “Marvel’s The Avengers,” which opened earlier this summer to record-breaking box office and generally excellent reviews. That movie, the culmination of a series of loosely intertwined Marvel Comics adaptations, including “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger,” was produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Marvel parent company Walt Disney. Spider-Man is one of a number of characters Marvel sold off piecemeal years to different studios. (Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man and Ghost Rider. 20th Century Fox has The X-Men, Daredevil and The Fantastic Four. Universal has long owned The Incredible Hulk.)
Despite the perception that the properties are competitors, “Marvel’s The Avengers” has already made the bulk of its money at the box office, a billion dollars plus. Though the all-star superhero team-up movie is still playing in theatres, the movies are not really going head-to-head. And it was recently revealed that Spider-Man almost made a cameo of sorts in “Marvel’s The Avengers,” an idea that was on scotched because it would have involved redoing too much of that movie’s CGI landscape. There is in fact reason to hope that such studio cooperation and character crossover may happen in future movies. Fanboys hoping, for example, for a Wolverine cameo in an Avengers sequel might yet get their wish.
“The Amazing Spider-Man,” which boasts an all-star screenplay by James Vanderbilt (“Zodiac”), Academy Award winner Alvin Sargent (“Paper Moon,” “Ordinary People,” “Spider-Man 2”) and Steve Kloves (the “Harry Potter” movies), and a superb supporting cast (Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Peter’s Uncle Ben and Aunt May, Denis Leary as NYPD Capt. George Stacy and Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors), is also the first major superhero movie actually shot in 3D.
John Schwartzman, who’s also photographed the Michael Bay movies “The Rock,” “Armageddon” and “Pearl Harbor,” in addition to “Seabiscuit” and “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” shot “The Amazing Spider-Man” in 3D with the Red Epic digital cameras which are rapidly becoming a Hollywood standard, thanks to the number of top directors that are using them. Peter Jackson is shooting “The Hobbit” movies with Red Epics. Ridley Scott used them on “Prometheus,” as did Steven Soderbergh on “Magic Mike.” “The Amazing Spider-Man” is also the first movie to be shot in 3D using the Red Epic camera mounted on 3ality Digital’s newest, lightest-weight rig.
Spider-Man is a vintage Marvel character with a long history of his own. 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Spider-Man. The classic Marvel comic book character made his debut in 1962 in Issue #15 of the anthology series “Amazing Fantasy” (August 1962). “Amazing Fantasy” ended with this issue and Spider-Man’s adventures continued in a new series, “The Amazing Spider-Man,” beginning in 1963.
But does the new movie offer something different dramatically? The filmmakers think so. “This Peter Parker is a little different: he’s still an outsider, but he’s an outsider by choice,” says Webb, in press materials distributed by the studio. “He has a chip on his shoulder – he’s the kid who rejects people before they can reject him. The humor, the sarcasm, the rebellious streak emanates from that little kid who got left behind so long ago.”
And the superhero boom isn’t over yet. There’s a little something called “The Dark Knight Rises” opening on July 20th.