After months of guessing and rumor mongering, Sony and Marvel have made their choice and it is sure to be controversial. Or at least second guessed by the fickle comic book movie nerd crowd. In a press release this morning, the combined franchising power of two big companies announced the future of Spider-Man, with 19-year-old actor Tom Holland now taking up the mantle of your friendly neighborhood wall-crawler, and up-and-coming filmmaker Jon Watts, of the recently released Sundance hit Cop Car, taking up the reins of the as-yet-untitled Spider-Man movie coming out in 2017. Can these two untested people now rise to the occasion and deliver the Spider-Man everyone’s pegging their hopes and dreams on? Who can say, but the powers that be are certainly stoked.
Holland, who’s was on the short list of finalists along with Asa Butterfield, Nat Wolff, Liam James, and Timothee Chalamet, is perhaps best known for the big screen dramas The Impossible and How I Live Now, as well as the TV miniseries Wolf Hall. Like former Spider-Man Andrew Garfield, he hails from England.
Butterfield was thought by many to be the front-runner, but a report earlier this month suggested he had fallen out of favor with the brass, and the race was down to Holland, Charlie Plummer and Matthew Lintz; Plummer was Marvel’s choice, but Holland was Sony’s choice. I guess Sony was the more persuasive.
Director Watts, meanwhile, is a bigger question mark. He has a strong background in shorts and TV, but he only has two features under his belt, Cop Car and the horror flick Clown. Watts was a late comer to the race that started when Cabin in the Woods director Drew Goddard was hired to write the script. The formal list of shortlisted directors included Jonathan Levine, Ted Melfi, Jason Moore, Jared Hess, and John Francis Daley & Jonathan M. Goldstein.
Considering that list, Watts’ selection is even more interesting, especially when you also consider that Marc Webb, director of the last two Spider-Man movies, also came from an indie film background and according to reports basically drown from the weight of expectations and studio demands. Might Watts suffer a similar fate? I guess we’ll find out.
Here’s the press release from Marvel:
Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios are proud to announce that after a full worldwide casting search, Tom Holland will play Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the next Spider-Man film, in theaters in IMAX and 3D on July 28, 2017. The film will be directed by Jon Watts, director of “Cop Car,” the upcoming thriller that made its debut earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.
Marvel and Sony Pictures, and producers Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal conducted an extensive search for both the actor and the director. The studios and producers were impressed by Holland’s performances in “The Impossible,” “Wolf Hall,” and the upcoming “In the Heart of the Sea,” and by a series of complex screen tests. Following Marvel’s tradition of working with the brightest next wave of directors, Watts also went through multiple meetings with Feige, Pascal, and the studio, before winning the job.
Commenting on the announcement, Tom Rothman, Sony Pictures Motion Pictures Group Chairman, said, “It’s a big day here at Sony. Kevin, Amy and their teams have done an incredible job. The Marvel process is very thorough, and that’s why their results are so outstanding. I’m confident Spider-Man will be no exception. I’ve worked with a number of up-and-coming directors who have gone on to be superstars and believe that Jon is just such an outstanding talent. For Spidey himself, we saw many terrific young actors, but Tom’s screen tests were special. All in all, we are off to a roaring start.”
Feige commented, “As with James Gunn, Joss Whedon, and the Russo brothers, we love finding new and exciting voices to bring these characters to life. We spent a lot of time with Jon and find his take and work inspiring.”
Pascal added, “Sony, Marvel, Kevin and I all knew that for Peter Parker, we had to find a vibrant, talented young actor capable of embodying one of the most well-known characters in the world. With Tom, we’ve found the perfect actor to bring Spider-Man’s story into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”
Sony Pictures will finance and release worldwide the next installment of the $4 billion Spider-Man franchise on July 28, 2017, in a film co-produced by Kevin Feige and his expert team at Marvel and Amy Pascal, who oversaw the franchise launch for the studio 13 years ago. Together, they will collaborate on a new creative direction for the Web-Slinger.
Spider-Man, embraced all over the world, is the most successful franchise in the history of Sony Pictures, with the five films having taken in more than $4 billion worldwide.
Holland is expected to make his Spidey debut in next summer’s Captain America: Civil War, which is filming now. The first combined Marvel/Sony Spider-Man solo movie will be in theaters everywhere on July 28, 2017