Spider-Man 4 Unlikely To Make 2011 Release Date Due To Script Problems?

Last month, IESB reported a rumor claiming that Spider-Man 4 had been put on hold due to disputes over an incomplete script. According to the report, director Sam Raimi was at odds with the studio over who the big villain of the fourth film should be (Raimi is fighting for Vulture), and that several department heads working on the production, internally referred to as SPIDER-M4N, has been notified that the film had been put on "an indefinite hold." Sony was quick to issue a statement denying the report, and MTV's sources claimed that a break/hiatus for the Holidays was always planned, and the production would resume "early next year".

Nikki Finke, who is always on top of the Mrvel news stories and obviously has some high up sources within the company, has confirmation that production was indeed shut down on the film, despite Sony's denial to the contrary.

She reprints an email that went out on December 11th 2009 to the Spider-Man 4 special effects crew which says:

"We were just notified that our schedule is pushing. We will NOT be starting as planned. I'm terribly sorry for this news, and I hope this email reaches you in time to find other options. We do not know how long we are pushing, and we will not know until mid-January. By mid-January, we will be told how long the push is, whether it be 2 weeks, 2 months, or something else. The studio has every intention of making the movie, but we no longer have a confirmed start date. Again, I'm terribly sorry, but Sam Raimi has story issues [that] need to be resolved before we are ready to shoot."

According to Finke, Raimi hates the lastest draft of the script and they are now waiting on a new version from screenwriter Alvin Sargent, who worked on both Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3. What this means is that it is very unlikely that Sony will be able to deliver the film to theaters on the announced May 11th, 2011 release date. Apparently Sony has earmarked a new July 2011 release date, but that might not stick if they don't come to an agreement on a screenplay soon. Sony was hoping to begin filming in late March/early April, but now there is no date on the calendar. And to top it all off, the Sony bigwigs have apparently nixed Anne Hathaway after they realized her pricetag was too high, and they don't really need another big name Hollywood star to sell the film.

It's begining to sound like Spider-Man 3 all over again — one big clusterfuck. This happens a lot when a studio announces a release date before they even have a script. The two Pirates of the Caribbean sequels are the best example of this. But with a lot of creative forces attached and signed, availabilities and shoot dates become more important to the studio than the story. Unlike Spider-Man 3, I don't believe Sam Raimi will let this sequel go into production until it's ready.