Variety reporter Mike Fleming is reporting that Columbia Pictures is in talks with Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) to direct and rewrite the upcoming Venom solo film. Ross' name is not new to Sony and their Spider-Man-related flicks however, as back in July he was brought in to make rewrites on the Spider-Man 4 script.
Ross is an easy choice for Columbia Pictures because of his growing relationship with Sony (Sony Pictures Entertainment owns Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group) which includes his directing of a Lance Armstrong cycling film and his work on the in-development Tokyo Suckerpunch. Combined with his longstanding relationship with Tobey Maguire that includes writing and directing him twice in the films listed above. They'll be pairing as Actor-Director for a third go with The Crusaders.
I have no idea what to expect from a Venom solo film but I can't believe that it can match anywhere near the success of any of the Spider-Man movies. The character simply doesn't have that mass appeal and after what happened with Venom in Spider-Man 3, I don't know where they go from here. Unless of course they cross-over with Spider-Man...
The report states that Ross will begin work on Venom after the fourth Spidey installment finishes and that the film will likely be a fresh start for the brooding character. The lead actor will most likely be recast. Sorry, Topher Grace, but you may be fighting Predators instead anyway.
My prediction is that after Spider-Man 4, Maguire, Raimi and the rest of the existing crew will leave the franchise, giving room for Sony's planned 5th and 6th installments which are currently being written by James Vanderbilt to act as a franchise restart if needed. That would allow them to tie the new take on Venom with the new start of Spider-Man, allowing them to do it the right way this time.
What do you think about the Venom project and what would you like to see from it? Do you think it'll tie-in at all with Spider-man 4 or the following two sequels?
Spider-Man 4 opens May 6, 2011.