It's official: Spider-Man 4 is being delayed indefinitely over concerns with the script. And we can't help feeling grateful that Sam Raimi took some time to do Drag Me To Hell and get some perspective.
We already reported a rumor that Spider-Man 4 was on hold because Raimi and the studio couldn't agree on a script that Raimi didn't think was dog poop. But now the studio is admitting it on the record. And really, thank goodness.
Has there ever been a story like Sam Raimi's? Plenty of directors have gone from making small-budget films like Evil Dead (and TV shows like Xena and Hercules) to Spider-Man-level blockbusters. And it's not at all unusual that after a while in the big leagues, Raimi's work would start to become idiotic and soulless, like Spider-Man 3. That's the usual Hollywood trajectory, and we're lucky to get a couple good pictures out of an indie director who starts tackling huge properties, before the inevitable suck sets in.
But how many directors have turned around and decided to do another relatively small film after churning out a big-budget disaster? The closest recent parallel I can think of, off the top of my head, is Peter Jackson producing District 9, which has sparked a new fad for huge directors (including Raimi) producing up-and-coming newbies.
In any case, it's hard not to feel like Raimi got a piece of his soul back by sending a poor misguided woman to Hell. And in turn, that helped him to say no to what I'm just guessing were going to be some hideous creative decisions on Spider-Man 4. What was the studio insisting on this time around? Carnage? The Clone Saga? Spider-Girl? We may never know, and we should be grateful for that.
Raimi's said he wants Spider-Man 4 to be more about Peter Parker growing up and getting less self-absorbed, which sounds like a film we'd actually like to watch.
We shoudl start an exchange program, and let more huge directors do a small indie every now and then. Despite loving Avatar, I would still kill to see James Cameron make another movie with the budget he had on The Terminator (adjusted for inflation, because I'm not a total sadist.) The Usual Suspects had a budget of $6 million, according to Wikipedia, and I'd love to see Bryan Singer make another movie with that level of budget. And so on.
Maybe if a few more huge mega-directors tried going back to their roots a bit, we'd be spared more films like Spider-Man 3 and Superman Returns. Maybe, having tasted creative freedom again and realized that they don't need a huge studio apparatus to make a good movie, a few more of these directors could get their spark back. Of course, having written all this, now I'm just crossing my fingers that Raimi doesn't go back to work on Spider-Man 4 and produce a creative disaster of Phantom Menace proportions. Here's hoping.