Sony Emails: Pascal Had Concerns Weeks Ahead of London Premiere

PrintWikileaks has dumped thousands of additional emails from the Sony Hack. One particularly sad one came from an email exchange between Amy Pascal (then Sony co-chair) and Sony producer Doug Belgrad in March, 2014 – just a little over two weeks before the film’s London premiere. In the exchange, Pascal notes that she’s troubled with the Spider-sequel (sic):

you knOw the reAl problem

In my heart I know the truth and I just keep wanting someone to not think what I think and have always thought

In reply, Belgrad asks:

Which is what?
Not cool enough, action not groundbreaking?

Pascal replied with a long litany of problems with the picture, most of which were picked up by critics and fans after its release, and even questions the direction & casting (sic):

All of thAt
skitzo tone
electro lame
everybody too dour
Too much fashion and Clothing awarness for this kind of movie
Not fun
lame eleCtriCity
doesn’t ever hiT the center bullseye for a long enough time
Weird disjointed
No one single great set piece because action is just big and not story telling
Not funny at all
hate the parents story
prob if I’m really really honest wring director and wrong casting
We will almost get away with it and we can never go back no maTter how much pressure we have to do what’s right

In an earlier email, from January of 2013, Sony Theatrical Marketing President Dwight Caines reached out to numerous Sony personnel asking for honest feedback on the sequel, and added some of his own:

ASM feedback

I spoke with Amy this morning about the movie.  In the same way that Amy can be tough on us, she’s tough on herself and the filmmakers.

Thanks to all who sent feedback. (I sent your feedback without your names)

Amy really wants to hear what you think could make the movie better.  Don’t worry about “hurting feelings” – this is about winning.  She said she was a bit disappointed in the version she saw last night compared to her last viewing and is focussed on getting it right.

I mentioned pace – dragged in spots
Electro and Kafka still are standouts as over the top performances
Intensity and darkness a bit of a concern 
Music great but over powered in spots
Some scenes like (Oxford and skipping stones) overstay their welcome.

Please provide the feedback to me and I will compile.  For those of you who’ve sent feedback, let’s focus on what needs to be improved.


Electro & Kafka being over the top, the parents’ story going nowhere, problem with the storytelling, pacing and direction… internally, Sony was well aware of them all, and more.

In November of last year, long after the dust had settled from the damage Amazing Spider-Man 2 had dealt, the sting of disappointment still lingered. On November 4th, Pascal reached out via email to her friend and former Spider-Man director Sam Raimi:

I really need your help with you know who I’ve made a mess of it  I know you don’t want to “do”it  But I trust you more than anyone  And at the very least need your help with Figuring out what to do I don’t want to bother you  But I have huge decisions to make Of course it can wait till tomorrow But if I could come see you sometime Soon ….I would be in your debt forever I hate to say this but of course keep this Between us

Raimi replied, positively and reassuringly, and agreed to talk. On November 18th, two weeks to the day after Pascal had reached out to Raimi, Michael DeLuca sent out the following Spider-suggestion email following a ‘quickie’ Spider-Meeting:

Hey, Amy solicited suggestions at the end of the meeting yesterday and for what it’s worth here are mine (apologize in advance if any of these have been tried and/or discarded already!):
-Seriously investigate making Koepp and/or Raimi creative overlords and invite Raimi to pull a “Bryan Singer on Xmen” and return to franchise as the filmmaker.

-Investigate availability of all other franchise writers coming available and their possible interest, the aforementioned Koepp, Michael Arndt, Simon Beaufoy, etc. Even Kinberg if free, anyone who’s crushed it on recent franchises.

-Convene expert creative committee:

Koepp, Raimi, Bendis, Vaughn, Strascynski, Todd Mcfarlane. Or anyone we think has value. Map out enough ideas to feed a ten year plan. Or just hear thoughts.

-Get multiple projects happening asap, including:

-Sinister Six sequel (if we love drew’s script), Matt produces.

-Seperate trilogy developed and overseen by Raimi and/or Koepp or some other creative overlord, using one of the epic story lines from books (death of spidey, doc Ock as spider ala Superior Spider-Man, the multiple SM saga per Josh Boone suggestion, etc), with new producer.

Maybe Raimi does Silver Age spidey and a seperate trilogy is mapped out riffing from modern Ultimates (venom/carnage saga)? Developing next steps as trilogies and not stand alines could be smart.

-Seperate Venom project. Matt produces.

-Lisa Joy project.

The goal would be one or two trilogy tracks, two side movies and Sinister Six sequels as a seperate track if we like Drew’s direction.

By December, the press was reporting Raimi’s possible return to the Spider-stable.

This gives us a glimpse, warts and all, into how Sony’s Spider-Sausage was made.

–George Berryman! 

(21) Comments

  1. Max

    The one I feel bad for is Andrew Garfield. He brought Peter/Spidey to life, and if he had a different script and creative team, he could've rocked it. He's still Spidey to me. I still remember when ASM1 came out he just really wanted to be in the Avengers/MCU.

  2. PeterParkerfan

    So..... Pascal wanted to make Raimi the director for the Spider-Man movies again? Now THAT's surprising.

  3. Jack

    It's funny that Pascal could see what was wrong, but only after principal filming was over, and so didn't do anything to stop it in time.

  4. George Berryman - Post author

    @17 - Oh no worries! I knew you weren't being rude! Just clarifying that I don't hate Sony so much as I am <i>severely</i> disappointed with them. :cool:

  5. James Deen

    Hey George thanks for the comment I hope you understand I wasn't being roud, I know you guys love Spider-Man just as much as other fans do, lets hope we get a decent Spider-Man movie, just wish he was not a teenager though.

  6. JRT!

    I agree with George. And George....please correct that last sentence,LOL! It looks kinda wrong. Things things? lol! Just joshin' ya,I know what you mean. J-R!

  7. George Berryman - Post author

    @9 - It's just a lazy thing. Not correcting texts, etc. I'm crazy about correct spelling and grammar when I text but a lot of people aren't. They just type it out and hit send with no review. I know adults who can't be bothered with hitting the shift key to capitalize and who scoff at using quotation marks in Google searches. @10 - I agree with your agreement. What makes it frustrating is that while she wanted it to succeed and she wanted it to be good, she was too trusting of others. It's like she put this critical project into a mental file cabinet, knowing others were handling it so she wouldn't have to worry about it, then was shocked - shocked! - when it was subpar. It's lazy; it's why ASM2 was garbage. @11 - I don't hate Sony. I just dislike it when people screw up something I really love and appreciate. I am pretty sure that's why we here at the site (and especially me specifically) get labeled "hater" so often. Spider-Man is very important to me and I have standards that I expect to be met, in print and across all media. And my standards represent a very high bar. I have seen Spidey stories at their best and I have seen it at their worst. I will always expect excellence and I won't usually settle for anything short of it. When I see Spidey related things that, to me, appear to be lazy, or appear to be phoning it in, or just showcase a lack of imagination or basic understanding of the source material, then I voice my disappointment vociferously. It's funny, because we sometimes get iTunes reviews that say, more or less, that they don't know why we're covering Spidey because we seem to "hate" the character. I've always suspected that particular criticism comes from fans who will just accept <i>anything</i> because it is Spidey-related, no matter how good or bad it is. But to say Crawl Space doesn't love Spidey is patently untrue. We love the character so much that anything less than 'amazing' is distasteful, sometimes even offensive and insulting. Spidey deserves the best and as fans we should never stop expecting it or demanding it. No matter if it's comics, movies, animation, toys, etc. End rant. I know you weren't calling us "haters," James Deen! :cool: But your comment just made me think about a lot of things this morning. That's good!

  8. James Deen

    Man George really hates Sony doesn't he? Then again they have made many bad decisions.

  9. Alex

    Agree with George, I feel a little bad for her as well. You can tell she wanted the film to be a success, not just concerning money but concerning it creatively as well. She really wanted to make a good film here and she seems very disheartened by the way it turned out in the end.

  10. Yvonmukluk

    What's with Pascal randomly capitalising letters? Is she trying to send a coded message?

  11. crime master

    In a perfect world, Raimi would have stayed on to direct Spider-Man 4 with Tobey Maguire, and then the Maguire Spidey would have appeared in the MCU. No offence to Garfield or Webb, they were both screwed over by the studio to quite some extent. It's probably considered blasphemy to say this, but I actually liked a lot of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I think with a better editor, it could have been a really good movie. (not seen any fan cuts, but I can imagine one of those doing a great deal to fix things)

  12. George Berryman - Post author

    In one way I feel bad for Pascal. I'm glad she was able to swallow her pride enough to reach out to Raimi, who comes across genuinely nice and helpful in his email response. And I do get a sense that she was lost after ASM2 fell far short of their expectations. But then when you look at the fact that she knew the film had major problems, to the extent of questioning the selection of director and cast, and that she knew as early as January... then it's hard to feel sorry for her or for Sony. From the emails I've read she comes across more as a "lead from the back" type of exec. She gets excited when her creative people think they are on to something but she doesn't really know what that something is. It's not even a lazy approach to the source material; it's more like indifference. And then when it's shot, when filming is all said and done, <i>then</i> she realizes there are major problems after taking a more hands-off approach with the story. As I read through all of her concerns about the quality of ASM2, I was slack-jawed. So much of it (which many fans and critics complained about after release) resulted from her trusting others to handle a major franchise but not paying much attention to how it was unfolding. As Ronald Reagan once said: "Trust... but verify."

  13. ryan3178

    Its amazing when you read these just how clueless they really were on things and even how they hated what we as the fans hated about the film.

  14. The Lament Beast

    Ahahahaha, holy crap! They knew they messed up before it came out?! Wow! God damn Sony, there was no hope for you! Especially when you begged for Raimi to come back! Now I want to see Sony's reaction just after the ASM2 came out. ~Lament~

  15. Mr Fig

    I still can't get enough of these emails lol. Despite the a lot of them reveal how much these people didn't have a clue, its still interesting to read the "creative process"

  16. parabolee

    WOW, they seriously considered bringing Raimi back!? Wish they had never let him go or screwed him over. But I guess if Raimi stayed, we never have got Spidey in the MCU. I hope they intend to bring J.K. Simmons back, he made it sound like they might.

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