By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 20, 2010 at 12:32AM
Sony and Marvel's choice of music-video director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) to helm the next installment of Spider-Man is revealing of what they want that movie to be: stylish and comedic.
Yet another indie director takes the helm of a major studio franchise, as Bryan Singer did with X-Men and Chris Nolan did with Batman. Webb's (500) Days of Summer is a deliciously commercial hit movie: witty, breezy, defying romantic comedy formula while not straying outside the realm of accessible entertainment. That's what studios want: that sweet spot between "original and fresh" and "accessible and commercial."
Webb is also young and not established enough to be willing to play ball with the studio. He will be eager to prove himself on a big-budget VFX franchise, so he'll do what he is told. (The reason established A-list Spider-Man director Sam Raimi is off the franchise: he insisted on having his way.) Webb will work with writer James Vanderbilt and producers Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin on developing the project, which is slated to start shooting later this year for release in summer 2012. The next question is who's going to play Spidey: I like the rumor about Across the Universe star Jim Sturgess. He's young, athletic, and utterly charming.
UPDATE: Vulture's Claude Brodesser-Akner broke the deal details.
Release quotes are on the jump.
Commenting on the announcement, Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Matt Tolmach, president of Columbia Pictures, said, “At its core, Spider-Man is a small, intimate human story about an everyday teenager that takes place in an epic super-human world. The key for us as we sought a new director was to identify filmmakers who could give sharp focus to Peter Parker’s life. We wanted someone who could capture the awe of being in Peter’s shoes so the audience could experience his sense of discovery while giving real heart to the emotion, anxiety, and recklessness of that age and coupling all of that with the adrenaline of Spider-Man’s adventure. We believe Marc Webb is the perfect choice to bring us on that journey.”
Arad and Ziskin added jointly, “Over the years, the Spider-Man comics have been told with bold and creative new writers and artists who have re-calibrated the way audiences see Peter Parker. Marc Webb will do for the new direction of the films what so many visionary storytellers have done with the comic books. He is an incredibly talented filmmaker and we look forward to working closely with him on this new adventure.”
Webb said, “This is a dream come true and I couldn't be more aware of the challenge, responsibility, or opportunity. Sam Raimi's virtuoso rendering of Spider-Man is a humbling precedent to follow and build upon. The first three films are beloved for good reason. But I think the Spider-Man mythology transcends not only generations but directors as well. I am signing on not to ‘take over’ from Sam. That would be impossible. Not to mention arrogant. I'm here because there's an opportunity for ideas, stories, and histories that will add a new dimension, canvas, and creative voice to Spider-Man.”
Stan Lee, co-creator of Spider-Man, added, “I’m excited that Sony has chosen a director with a real penchant and understanding for the character. This is a brave, bold direction for the franchise, and I can’t wait to see what Marc comes up with next.”
Added Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, “The idea of re-imagining the on-screen story for one of the world’s most iconic superheros is sure to deliver an exciting new dimension to Spider-Man fans everywhere. There are volumes of comics and material available to inspire fresh and compelling takes on Peter Parker and his journey as Spidey and we look forward to seeing this come alive onscreen.”