Spider-Man fans have had a rough time at the cinema over the past decade. In the aftermath of Spider-Man 2 – which is still considered by many to be among the best superhero films ever made – the web-slinger’s franchise has gone through some hard times, starting with Spider-Man 3: widely considered the weakest installment in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy.
In the modern era of intense online fan scrutiny, filmmakers and actors are more likely to speak out against the studio or their fellow crew to defend or condemn a project that wasn’t well received. A recent interview with the star of the original Spider-Man trilogy, Topher Grace (who played Eddie Brock/Venom), reveals his true feelings about the film’s performance and reception with the public.
Topher Grace revealed his thoughts on Spider-Man 3 to THR, while doing press for his latest film, the Dan Rather docudrama Truth. THR asked Topher for his thoughts on Spider-Man 3 and his feelings about how the film turned out – he had the following to say:
“I know the movie did well for Sony, but I also know a lot of people weren’t happy with it. I think Sam [Raimi] is so talented. I remember one time I was on ninth unit. (Laughs.) Ninth unit? It’s like he’s running a small country. This summer, there was a movie like that where people are just slamming a big studio movie. I would love to see anyone who’s slamming one of those movies try to fit in Sam Raimi’s position. He was like the president of a small country — by the way, it had the gross national income of a small country, too. I have huge respect for him. I think, on a whole, he did such a fantastic job [on that trilogy].”
The film that Topher is referring to is, of course, the Fantastic Four reboot, which was anything but Fantastic in the minds of most fans and reviewers. Director Sam Raimi himself has admitted he wasn’t terribly pleased with the outcome of the third installment in his Spider-Man trilogy, in recent years. Raimi validated years of fan criticism, acknowledging that he didn’t really understand or care about the characters he was introducing into the film – and that he should have just stuck with the natural progression of Spider-Man 2, instead of worrying about upping the bar for the third film.
Spider-Man 3 has a 63% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, whereas Spider-Man gets an 89% and Spider-Man 2 enjoys a whopping 94% rating. The fans and reviewers are all well and good, but we all know that what the movie studios care about is the bottom dollar, so did the box office reflect the fan opinion? The box office haul for Spider-Man 3 was over $890 million worldwide (with around $336 million of that earned in the domestic United States), while the budget for that film was $258 million. It was profitable overall, but the middling buzz coupled with rising costs for Spider-Man 4 led to the franchise being rebooted thereafter.
The critical failure of Spider-Man 3 stalled the franchise out and even a re-birth in 2012 with The Amazing Spider-Man films being unable to successfully reach the same heights as previous installments had. The bar has since been raised in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the upcoming 2017 reboot (rumored to be titled The Spectacular Spider-Man) will aim to bring Peter Parker back into everyone’s good graces – after he first crosses paths with other members of The Avengers in the 2016 release, Captain America: Civil War.
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.