studio notes hurt the amazing spider-man 2

The Spider-Man films have represented a diminishing set of returns, for Sony on the domestic financial front (though we don’t have all data for long-tail revenue) and for audiences in terms of satisfaction. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 often felt surprisingly derivative of Sam Raimi’s own Spider-Man 2. When it did explore new territory, the story threads were unconvincing. More than anything else, this latest film felt as if it was the product of yet another mid-stream course correction. To hear star Andrew Garfield tell it, studio notes hurt The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In his eyes, things were in pretty good shape before studio decisions started cutting stuff and messing with the flow of the script.

While he was in Toronto promoting his new film 99 Homes, The Daily Beast asked Garfield about his take on the latest film, and the reaction to it.

It’s interesting. I read a lot of the reactions from people and I had to stop because I could feel I was getting away from how I actually felt about it. For me, I read the script that Alex [Kurtzman] and Bob [Orci] wrote, and I genuinely loved it. There was this thread running through it.

I think what happened was, through the pre-production, production, and post-production, when you have something that works as a whole, and then you start removing portions of it—because there was even more of it than was in the final cut, and everything was related. Once you start removing things and saying, “No, that doesn’t work,” then the thread is broken, and it’s hard to go with the flow of the story. Certain people at the studio had problems with certain parts of it, and ultimately the studio is the final say in those movies because they’re the tentpoles, so you have to answer to those people.

His additional comments are a lot more interesting, because they’re something we don’t often hear much about: a description of trying to process the fact of some very negative reactions to something he and the crew spent a lot of time working on.

But I’ll tell you this: Talking about the experience as opposed to how it was perceived, I got to work in deep scenes that you don’t usually see in comic book movies, and I got to explore this orphan boy—a lot of which was taken out, and which we’d explored more. It’s interesting to do a postmortem. I’m proud of a lot of it and had a good time, and was a bit taken aback by the response.

It’s a discernment thing. What are the people actually saying? What’s underneath the complaint, and how can we learn from that? We can’t go, “Oh God, we fucked up because all these people are saying all these things. It’s shit.” We have to ask ourselves, “What do we believe to be true?” Is it that this is the fifth Spider-Man movie in however many years, and there’s a bit of fatigue? Is it that there was too much in there? Is it that it didn’t link? If it linked seamlessly, would that be too much? Were there tonal issues? What is it? I think all that is valuable. Constructive criticism is different from people just being dicks, and I love constructive criticism. Hopefully, we can get underneath what the criticism was about, and if we missed anything.

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