Amy Pascal’s Exit Could Affect Sony’s Spider-Man Franchise, ‘Dragon Tattoo’

amazing spider-man 2

Amy Pascal’s departure as co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment and chair of its motion picture group leaves Hollywood unsettled over the fate of the studio’s upcoming slate.

The biggest questions at Sony surround the Spider-Man franchise, sequels to the “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and the “Cleopatra” project.

It could be several months or more before the post-Pascal priorities of the studio come into focus. And of course much depends on who her successor turns out to be. If Pascal’s top lieutenant, SPE Motion Picture Group president Doug Belgrad, gets the gig, as many expect, there could be minimal changes to the lineup.

Pascal will remain in place through May, at which point she will segue to a producing deal at Sony. Besides Belgrad, other possible replacements from within are former Fox studio chief Tom Rothman, who runs TriStar Pictures; and Columbia Pictures production president Michael De Luca, who ran New Line during the 1990s.

It’s probable that Sony Pictures chairman-CEO Michael Lynton will be averse to tinkering with projects being developed by Rothman and Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8.

The biggest decision for Lynton and Pascal’s successor will be how to handle the Spider-Man franchise. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″ did respectable business last summer but was hardly the $1 billion blockbuster that Pascal had told folks that she needed it to be.

“Spider-Man” remains a cash cow, but the plans for expanding the Spidey universe through villain spinoffs and the next installment may be re-examined — since Pascal played the leading role pursuing that path. A new regime may take a stronger look at returning to the negotiation table with Marvel Studios over Spidey’s rights.

Sony’s last move on that front came during Comic-Con in July, when the studio dated spinoff “Sinister Six” for Nov. 11, 2016, as the next tentpole in its key property — while moving back “The Amazing Spider-Man 3″ two years to 2018. The idea of bringing in villains is aimed at making Sony a stronger competitor against the likes of Disney/Marvel’s “Avengers” and Warner Bros.’ “Justice League” superheroes in the coming years.

The studio has also slated “Uncharted” for June 10, 2016 — the date previously held by “The Amazing Spider-Man 3” — with Charles Roven and former Marvel Studios chief Avi Arad producing. Based on the PlayStation videogame series, it follows the adventures of treasure hunter Nathan Drake, signaling Sony’s desire to develop an Indiana Jones-style franchise.

The uncertainty will also extend to Sony’s relationship with powerhouse producer Scott Rudin. The Sony hack revealed several nasty emails between Pascal and Rudin; additionally, Pascal decided to put Rudin’s Steve Jobs biopic into turnaround in November, after which Universal quickly picked up the project.

Pascal was still Rudin’s biggest champion at the studio and a big reason he signed a first-look deal with the studio in 2011. The most prominent of his projects include sequels to 2011’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” — “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.”

“Dragon Tattoo” was a critical success and performed respectably at the worldwide box office with $230 million, but no one has been in any hurry to make the next two installments in the series. Pascal’s departure leaves the continuation of that series very much in doubt.

Rudin is also developing a “Little House on the Prairie” movie, but the project does not appear to have gained much traction. That said, Pascal could wind up teaming with Rudin to produce the film once she’s launched her own production company at the studio.

“Cleopatra” also remains a big question mark as the big-budget biopic was probably Pascal’s biggest passion project at Sony. With Angelina Jolie seemingly irked about the leaked emails in which Rudin derided her and Pascal being the film’s biggest supporter, it seems very likely that this movie will move elsewhere.

“Salt 2,” which is not a Rudin project, may also have a murky future with Jolie due to her feelings about the emails.

In terms of projects on the franchise side, “Ghostbusters” and “21 Jump Street” seem safe, but the “Men in Black” series may either be reconsidered or completely abandoned, especially following the much-derided leaked email that suggested creating a spinoff that would combine the “Jump Street” movies with “Men in Black.” Additionally, “Men in Black 3” was so costly and so panned by critics that the new regime may take a pass on this series altogether.

 

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  1. JD22 says:

    I usually watch all Marvel comic book movies during the first week of released. But I skipped TASM 2. I’m struggling to even get through this Amazing Spider-man 2 movie. I turned if off at the beginning plane sequence with Bruce Wayne’s parents dying, oops Peter Parker, like four times. Now I’m up to almost half way through, I guess, with the Green Goblin and son. Still haven’t watched the complete film yet. So boring. I’m going to force myself to watch it to continue my streak.

    Anyway, I think there is a Spider-man fatigue because they had two origin movies a decade apart. And then they come up with another what seems, to be a Spider-man rehash just two years later. And the fact they were going to build crap on crap by spinning off Spider-man films, to dilute it further. What they needed to do was rest the character, 2018 seems like good timing.

    Of course for fans, Spider-man would be refreshed if he joins the MCU. And I think Sony would make more money that way. Having the character involved in Avengers 3 and 4 would be huge. Solo Spider-man films with other Marvel characters appearing could make it a billion dollar a move franchise again.

  2. Mark Bigford says:

    Amazing Spiderman 2 was Awful.

  3. Bishop Davis Davidson says:

    Honestly, I hope that the new head of Sony will strike a deal with Marvel. Hell, Universal still owns the rights to solo Hulk films (as long as Marvel Studios is involved). Why can’t we have a similar deal present here?

  4. johnulmer says:

    Does the Variety staff employ basic fact checking during the creation of their articles? I’m just wondering, because this isn’t the first time I’ve seen them erroneously refer to a film’s reception as being negative when it was, in fact, quite the opposite. Dave McNary writes that Men in Black III was “so panned by critics” — and yet, if he had done so much as to simply Google the film, he would have seen that this is factually inaccurate. On Rotten Tomatoes, MiB3 scored a 70% rating with many critics — including Roger Ebert — opining that it was the best of the trilogy. I understand that perhaps Googling the film was a bit too much of a hassle for Dave while he was forming his gossipy narrative for this article, but perhaps, then, he could have at least glanced at the film’s Wikipedia page, where the Critical Reception section begins, “Men in Black 3 received mostly positive reviews from critics.” A far cry from “so panned.”

    Dave’s logic is that a big part of Sony’s reason to (allegedly) abandon the MiB franchise is that the latest entry was poorly received — yet, surely if this were the case, such a plan would have been put into effect after the release of the second film, which was almost universally loathed by critics (39% on RT). The fact of the matter is that MiB was seen as a huge improvement over the second film, it just didn’t become the billion dollar behemoth Sony somehow thought it would be with the advent of 3D. Domestically, it performed stronger than many journalists (like Dave) would have you believe, but overseas it was a huge blockbuster. For this reason alone I very much doubt Sony has any true plans to abandon or significantly retool the series any time soon… at this point the biggest obstacle for Sony is that Barry Sonnenfeld’s contract gives him creative control, and the studio no longer wants him at the helm (they didn’t even want him to do the third film, and he ran into creative struggles with Will Smith during production, which is why there were rumours that it was a flop before it even came out — stories that guys like Dave obviously bought into). This is why it’s very realistic that Sony may attempt to reboot the series in some way, but to insinuate that it’s somehow being thrown to the wayside because it flopped at the box office or was a critical dud? It’s just a really poorly-researched piece of shlock journalism that throws this whole article into question. Variety, please hire writers who can do so much as use Google before writing an article. It’ll save people like me from having to explain to your writers the benefits of the journalistic process.

    • Jeff Chang says:

      You read my mind on the MIB3 sentiments. Imo the best and while the first scored better overall reviews, it fared significantly better than the second film in critic opinion. Costly? I did hear that due to cost overruns, delays and marketing it did not make a profit despite the immediate production numbers looking like it had. Whether this is true or not Idk… bur certainly it was not a critical failure.

  5. Bill B. says:

    I like Andrew Garfield, but enough with Spiderman and Men in Black and who needs or wants another Cleopatra! However, I was hoping for a sequel to the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The first was sensational.

  6. Cleo says:

    Men in Black 3 wasn’t panned by critics…

  7. Ed says:

    Is anyone really surprised that there won’t be another Dragon Tattoo movie? It’s been four years, and everyone on the cast and crew that has talked about it says they don’t think it’s happening.

  8. cadavra says:

    No more unnecessary DRAGON TATTOO remakes? No SALT 2? No MEN IN BLACK 4? No SPIDER-MAN 6? No umpteenth CLEOPATRA? How will we ever survive?

  9. Matt says:

    Pascal boned the Spider-Man franchise, but I shudder to think what Rothman would do with it.

  10. demoncat4 says:

    odds are that the new regime will proably make a deal where they share the spiderman rights with marvel like letting marvel make the next spiderman film themselves but they distribute it . or the new head could just tell marvel finaly we are done spiderman is yours. as for the girl with books given how long since the dragon tatoo. the other films proably will not happen out of sight out of mind for that franchise.

  11. SC says:

    The Dragon Tattoo series just kind of petered out. It wasn’t intended to be a trilogy; the author died before completing any more books in the series and the final book opened up more plot points than it wound up. The Swedish movies with Naomi Rapace weren’t very good. It really wouldn’t make much sense to make more movies, as I think most fans of the books have moved on by now.

  12. Paul J says:

    Men in Black 3 got 70% on rotten tomatoes. I wouldn’t call that being panned by critics. In Fact many thought it was a big improvement over the second one.

  13. Nick says:

    Men in Black 3 got a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes and Roger Ebert claimed it was the best of the series.It still didn’t make anywhere close to it’s production budget and audience reaction was tepid, but I don’t think it’s fair to say it was “so panned by critics.” The writers were probably thinking of Men in Black 2, which was a terrible movie that was rightly panned by critics.

  14. Steve says:

    Sinister Six is the worst idea ever. Who would go to that movie? No well-known characters, no one to root for. That should be the first one they ditch.

  15. Good luck to the new Sony Head because that person will need it. I hope that Andrew Garfield will return as Peter Parker/Spider-man when Sony decide who will be the creative team.

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