Sam Raimi’s Oz The Great and Powerful is hitting theaters this weekend, but long before the film’s production, the director was attached to direct Spider-Man 4 – which eventually got the reboot treatment directed by Marc Webb – and World of Warcraft – which eventually went to Duncan Jones.
During the press rounds for Oz The Great and Powerful, Raimi addressed those projects that got passed on or rebooted.
On the subject of Spider-Man 4, Raimi said that he just couldn’t hand in a proper script on time and that he wanted to end his Spider-Man franchise on a high note, especially after the way Spider-Man 3 ended. By the way that the relationship between him and Sony wasn’t as heated as some make it out to be, according to Raimi.
It really was the most amicable and undramatic of breakups: It was simply that we had a deadline and I couldn’t get the story to work on a level that I wanted it to work. I was very unhappy with Spider-Man 3, and I wanted to make Spider-Man 4 to end on a very high note, the best Spider-Man of them all. But I couldn’t get the script together in time, due to my own failings, and I said to Sony, “I don’t want to make a movie that is less than great, so I think we shouldn’t make this picture. Go ahead with your reboot, which you’ve been planning anyway.” And [Sony co-chairman] Amy Pascal said, “Thank you. Thank you for not wasting the studio’s money, and I appreciate your candor.” So we left on the best of terms, both of us trying to do the best thing for fans, the good name of Spider-Man, and Sony Studios.
I’ll say this, whether or not Spider-Man 4 would have been made, it would have most likely made a lot of money anyway, but whether or not the story would have been good is something else, so it’s great to see that Raimi didn’t want to soil both Spider-Man or Sony Pictures just to make a quick buck.
World of Warcraft is a bit different though. While he did pitch them a script, the parties at play were either unaccepting or had reservations:
Robert Rodat was working on the script, and it was taking a long time. I think they were getting a little antsy at Legendary, the production company. Actually, what happened was even more complicated, so let me go back a little bit. First, they asked me if I wanted to make it, and I said, “Yes, I love World of Warcraft, and I think it would make a great picture.” So I read a screenplay they had that was written by the guys at [Warcraft developer] Blizzard, and it didn’t quite work for me. I told them I wanted to make my own original story with Robert, so we pitched it to Legendary and they accepted it, and then we pitched it to Blizzard, and they had reservations, but they accepted it. Then Robert wrote the screenplay, and only once he was done did we realize that Blizzard had veto power, and we didn’t know that. And they had never quite approved the original story we pitched them. Those reservations were their way of saying, “We don’t approve this story, and we want to go a different way,” so after we had spent nine months working on this thing, we basically had to start over. And Robert did start over, but it was taking too long for the people at Blizzard, and their patience ran out. Honestly, I think it was mismanagement on their behalf, not to explain to us that the first story was vetoed long ago. Why did they let us keep working on it? Were they afraid to tell me?
So what do you think of Raimi’s explanations?