"I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man, and loved it. But now that dream is over, and the insect is awake." - Seth Brundle, The Fly.
Though barely two weeks-and-change old, the 2010 entertainment news scene already seems to have found its theme: Major talent being - to put it mildly - royally screwed over by seemingly clueless studio bosses in shockingly public displays. On the TV side, Conan O'Brien finds himself paying for NBC's earth-shattering Jay Leno Show blunder, somehow being treated even more disrespectfully than even Letterman was the last time the Tonight Show changed hands.
On the film side, director Sam Raimi - under whose stewardship the Spider-Man movies set scads of box office records and likely spearheaded the creation of the superhero-dominated blockbuster landscape of 21st Century Hollywood - got into a highly-covered fight with Sony Pictures over the choice of bad guys for the upcoming Spider-Man 4. When it became clear he wasn't going to budge (at least, not in time to meet a schedule start-date) Sony's response was...decisive, to say the least. Sony killed the movie and the series - announcing that not only would they replace Raimi but completely re-start the entire franchise, with a new origin, a story following a teenaged Peter Parker in high school and - of course - an entirely new cast and continuity. Deadline Hollywood broke the story...
...and then the story broke the internet.
Spider-Man - at least, the Spider-Man whose story moviegoers around the world had been following since 2001 - is done for. The story is over. The giant question mark hovering over the relationship of Peter and Mary Jane will remain unresolved, as will the fate of the still-at-large Flint Marko, aka Sandman. Dylan Baker's Dr. Connors character will never make his constantly-teased metamorphosis into The Lizard. Is Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin as unable to remain dead as his comic counterpart? We'll never know.
The implications are, even for the world of blockbuster moviemaking, staggering: A film franchise ranked as one of the all-time most successful, not even a full decade old, the last installment of which earned over $300 million in the U.S. alone and only came out 2 and a half years ago... is being "remade." Not merely re-cast - completely rebooted as though it had been gone and forgotten for years already.
We won't know for years exactly what happened to get the situation to this point (but make no mistake, this is a big one - books, plural, will be written about this) but it's easily one of the biggest "WTF?" moments in modern movie history. Not only in scope, but also in how publicly it all played out over the last few years: Anyone with an internet connection and even a cursory interest in the Spider-Man movies has known since the week after the disappointing (but not as bad as everyone says it is, damn it!) Spider-Man 3 came out that much of the film's now-legendary story and pacing problems came from the studio forcing Raimi to include the popular (but largely useless) character Venom as a secondary villain largely against his will.