Today Deadline spilled the news that Sony’s new Spider-Man Andrew Garfield is only being paid $500,000 for the upcoming Spider-Man reboot, with incrementally higher paydays for the planned second and third Spidey reboot films.
This news is not surprising (cutting the cost of the Spider-Man franchise was one goal Sony stated early on) – however, there is some question about how realistic Sony’s goals are, and if they are not simply repeating the sordid history of their Spider-Man franchise.
According to Deadline, Andrew Garfield has a deal in place to receive $1 million for a second Spider-Man film, and $2 million for a third. To us rat-racers it might sound like big money – but in Hollywood? Not so much.
Granted, at the moment not a lot of us are that familiar with Andrew Garfield, so it’s not exactly a snub to his celebrity to hear that he’s only making 500K for this Spider-Man reboot. But Garfield does have a starring turn in Oscar-nominated director David Fincher’s upcoming biopic about the founders of Facebook, The Social Network. Early word we’re hearing is that Garfield is a standout performer in his role as Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, the guy who left the team before Facebook went big time and later sued his old pals over the matter. By the time The Social Network hits theaters this fall, Garfield could likely be a breakout star.
Did I mention that Garfield has the usual renegotiation deals in place with Sony? If the Spider-Man reboot is a success then I’m sure you’ll be hearing all about that renegotiation issue, because if Garfield’s star is rising as quickly as some think it is, then in a few years you can bet the young actor will be asking for a bigger piece of that Spider-Man pie – and so will director Marc Webb (pictured above) if he does well at the helm, and so will the actress who plays the love interest (provided they don’t kill her off at some point :-P ).
In the end, if Sony does well with their lower-budget and “grittier” Spider-Man, it will still inevitably lead to the same bigger-is-better thinking that often ups the cost (and hollow spectacle) of major blockbuster franchises, while steering studios down the path of re-hashing proven formulas instead of exploring (and risking) creativity with each new franchise installment. So how is this Andrew Garfield / Spider-Man situation going to be any different than when Tobey Maguire was paid $4 million then $17.5 million then $15 million (with sweet backend deals) then $50 million to wear the webs?
And if history does end up repeating itself in terms of cost inflation, what is the ultimate point of Sony pursuing this reboot of a franchise that had barely become a trilogy? To keep “re-inventing” the franchise over and over again in order to keep it cost effective, only to have its financial success be the same determent (high cost, low quality) they wanted to avoid in the first place? Am I the only one who’s beginning to see some obvious parallels to crack dealing here?
Of course there is one obvious benefit for Sony in this approach (besides the financial of benefits of a brand name and 3D gimmicks): by churning out new Spider-Man movies every couple of years Sony keeps the character rights out of Marvel Studios / Disney’s hands. And while the same question – “How long can a popular movie franchise remain cost effective to make?” – still looms over Marvel’s Avengers event, the cast of that film is rumored to have already agreed to pay cuts in favor of working together to deliver the sort of Avengers movie that the fans deserve and will appreciate. In my opinion, that’s loyalty that creative types (the Marvel guys) can inspire; corporate execs seem to have thick heads about the concept of geese and ganders: if you’re in it solely for the money and not the creative experience, then your actors and filmmakers will eventually join you in that sentiment.
It’s a major reason why Pixar can put out Toy Story 3 with the only cast “holdout” being poor Jim Varney, who passed away in 2000. Actors appreciate working with/for those whose bottom line is the craft of making compelling movies. As we’ve seen (and are seeing) again and again, when executive politics rule things we the fans ultimately lose out, just as MGM is costing us James Bond and Hobbit movies by drowning those projects in their financial politics, instead of turning them loose to studios who can actually get them onto the screen (that would go against the bottom line! :-P).
So for now, everybody feel free to talk about how much Andrew Garfield is (not) getting paid for Spider-Man. That should get the familiar Hollywood balls rolling: agents will swoop in and demand more for their client; Sony will either pay to keep playing or replace this kid with another kid; fans will either be treated to a revolving door of Spider-Men or get a reboot trilogy with increasingly high production values and formulaic storytelling; and legalities will continue preventing us from seeing Spider-Man in an Avengers movie. It’s not a happy prediction but I feel like it’s a likely one all the same.
How are you guys feeling about this Spider-Man reboot so far? The director, the lead actor, his paycheck, a possible villain? Sound off in the comments, or send us a quick thought on Twitter (@screenrant).
The Spider-Man reboot will be in 3d and 2D theaters on July 3rd, 2012