Wikileaks 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
everybody too dour
Too much fashion and Clothing awarness for this kind of movie
doesn’t ever hiT the center bullseye for a long enough time
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:
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.