james horner amazing spider-man 2

“Creative differences” is that oft-cited reason that people bail on movie projects, but that can also be a big problem when making any film, especially one with a hefty financial burden. Look at the Spider-Man series of films from Sony. Sam Raimi’s third film was evidence of heavy arguments and influence from producers who wanted one thing and a writer/director team that wanted others. Creative differences helped push Raimi away from the series. Now, with Marc Webb’s pair of films, “creative differences” is a plague on Spider-Man. Webb apparently wants certain things — character, plot — and producers want action and toy sales.

James Horner did the music for Marc Webb’s first Spidey film, The Amazing Spider-Man, but he wouldn’t do the sequel because The Amazing Spider-Man 2 “ended up being so terrible, I didn’t want to do it. It was just dreadful.” Anyone who saw the film, however, knew it ended up being terrible. That isn’t news. What’s interesting in Horner’s comments is the fact that the producers weren’t interested in Webb’s input at all.

James Horner took part in an extensive, career-spanning interview with fan site James Horner Film Music [via The Playlist], and had a bit to say on the subject of working with producers and execs. This comment is good background, prompted by some conversation about some of Horner’s work that used more esoteric inspiration than others:

I look for those people [such as Phil Alden Robinson, director of Sneakers and Field of Dreams], almost 90% of those type of filmmakers are gone. Now, the filmmakers are making the DC/Marvel Comics, all of that stuff. The world of the director being the laser focus is very different now. I’m used to working with the director and producer and that’s my relationship, it’s very simple. When you deal on films now you have a director who’s coming in on his second movie, he’s unsure, you have four producers, and financiers, and they all want to have a say in the score, and there’s no way of doing a score. So, it’s easier to do something that’s huge and impressive each time, relatively the same each time. It sounds stunning… But just saturated and they’re happy, they’re absolutely happy. You can’t get eight people, on an emotional scene that’s intimate, to all agree. It’s impossible.

James Horner Amazing Spider-Man 2

So with that in mind, Horner spoke about working on The Amazing Spider-Man:

[Marc Webb] was very inexperienced and he and I had a very good relationship and the producers had their own opinion. And they didn’t want his input. And then Sony had their own, they just wanted action. To me, the whole thing about doing the movie was I liked the director and there was a chance to write something for the two lead characters and then she dies in the next movie. But the next movie ended up being so terrible, I didn’t want to do it. It was just dreadful.

Both of Webb’s Spider-Man films feel as if they are the product of swerving story direction behind the scenes, and this comment helps illustrated that point. If Sony truly wants to build a set of films that can emulate Marvel’s success, the first point to internalize might be that there needs to be a strong driving force, whoever that might be. Avi Arad and the rest of the producing team at Sony are definitely a controlling force, but not one that is doing the films any favors at this point.

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