Columbia Pictures wants Sam Raimi to direct its big-budget adaptation of the Marvel Comics franchise “Spider-Man.” The emergence of Raimi over the past two weeks comes with a web of intrigue and entanglements that has prevented Columbia from making a formal offer.
While Raimi is an avowed “Spider-Man” fanatic who wants to direct the film, Sony needs the film for summer 2001 to facilitate the Marvel merchandising blitz that will surely follow through the holidays. Raimi is about to begin principal photography on “The Gift” later this month, and he will not helm “Spider-Man” unless an accommodation can be reached with Tom Rosenberg’s Lakeshore Entertainment (the “Gift” financier) and Paramount.
The only way that Raimi will be able to direct “Spider-Man” is if Sony can persuade Lakeshore to freeze the post-production on “Gift” so Raimi can begin principal photography on “Spider-Man” by late spring or early summer, then work on post-production of both films later in the year. While that places a hardship on “The Gift,” Sony has offered a seven-figure deal as compensation for the delay.
Despite its modest budget, “The Gift” has become an impediment to event films at rival studios, as Universal has set its sights on Cate Blanchett to replace Jodie Foster in the lead female role of “Hannibal.”
While recent speculation has focused on Chris Columbus and David Fincher for “Spider,” Raimi blew away the Sony execs in a meeting to discuss the character and script written by David Koepp.
– Michael Fleming
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Blanchett on ‘Hannibal’ short list
After a week of uncertainty, Universal is crystallizing its plans for the screen version of the Thomas Harris novel “Hannibal.”
Last week, studio brass contemplated waiting for Jodie Foster to finish her current film before reprising her Oscar-winning role of Clarice Starling, shelving the film completely, or compiling a list of replacement actresses (Daily Variety, Jan. 6). Since then, Universal has ruled out a return engagement by Foster.
While considering an offer by producer Dino De Laurentiis to pay back the more than $10 million spent by U on book and script costs, U seems likely to make an offer to Cate Blanchett to play the female lead of an FBI agent put under Lecter’s spell. Sources say Blanchett is one of two actresses on the short list, and they wouldn’t name the other.
Blanchett’s life is complicated by an imminent production start on “The Gift” (see above) and an engagement to play a role in New Line’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. U will need Steven Zaillian to engage in a bit of script surgery to explain the presence of a new character, but can likely use most of the same storyline from Zaillian’s current script.
– Michael Fleming
Moreau walks off ‘ER’ set on first day
An attempt to add a bit of international flavor to the cast of “ER” has failed miserably.
The producers of the hit NBC medical drama were understandably excited last month when they snagged French thesp Jeanne Moreau for a five-seg February sweeps stint as the mother of Brit doctor Elizabeth Corday (Alex Kingston.) While Moreau appeared in the PBS-produced telepic “A Foreign Field,” the “ER” gig was slated to be her first major role on a U.S. series.
But it looks like Moreau won’t be appearing on “ER” after all. According to sources close to the production, Moreau stormed off the set of the show last week, just a few hours after arriving for her first day of work. Insiders say Moreau had many problems adjusting to the environment of a U.S. drama.
It’s unclear whether producers will recast Moreau’s role or simply eliminate the character. A rep for “ER” exec producer John Wells declined comment.
– Josef Adalian
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Fox’s ‘Futurama’ picked up for 2000
The future for Fox’s “Futurama” just got a little bit brighter.
The animated skein from producers Matt Groening and David X. Cohen (“The Simpsons”) has been picked up for the 2000-01 season, a network spokesman confirmed. Still to be settled is whether the number of segs ordered will be 13, 22 or some figure in-between. Production issues will determine the final number.
– Josef Adalian