You've undoubtedly heard that Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire are no longer a part of the Spider-Man franchise, and that Sony plans to reboot the thing with absolutely no idea where to go or what to do next. Although there are some interesting subplots to this story, very little makes sense at this point.
Raimi seemed reluctant to do another film in the first place, so I personally don't find it all that surprising that he's out and not exactly broken up about it. I am surprised and I do not believe that Macguire is ambivalent as he's letting on. This franchise made him a super star and wealthy enough to do whatever he wants, and that may very well be a part of the problem. Some stars get too big to say no to and become an obstacle.
Harry Knowles thinks that's the underlying problem, too many people that aren't going to be told no that all had different ideas of where to go next. That's plausible, but there's little evidence to support such a conclusion. Although there's little evidence to support my theory either: Marvel.
Simple enough, is it not? Marvel has gotten too big to be told what to do by its studio partners, by big name actors, directors, and any other big shots that are typically allowed to walk all over the studio to a degree.
Sony really only cares about two things here, really. Budget and box office business. Under Raimi, the two companies have spent about $600 million to produce three films that have grossed nearly $2.5 billion (not including marketing, theater's take, etc.) If Sony isn't happy with that and content to sit back and let Raimi make them another $800 million dollars then they are just plain nuts. And I don't think Sony is nuts.
I don't think Raimi and Macguire and nuts, either. So that really only leaves an increasingly powerful and probably arrogant Marvel wanting to get its way creatively so badly that it drove off the two people most responsible for the franchise's success.
And the sad part is that this only makes things worse. The pressure to find the "right" director to replace Sam Raimi will almost certainly result in the strongest (most political) candidate winning out, not the best director for the job. That director will end up shredding about a hundred different writers in the process of coming up with a script that Marvel may as well just write in-house, because they are too big now to settle for mere input into the process. That will be exactly what happens because that's already what has happened, with as many as five writers already working on SM4.
Sony will grow impatient as the process drags on for four or five years -- I agree with Harry on that -- despite the supposed source of this failure being a rush to get the fourth movie out by next year.
But a reboot? This is too reminiscent of NBC's behavior. Moving on without the key components as well as starting over in the middle of a historic run of success is insane. NBC-insane, really.
In other words it's status quo for Hollywood.
And what of the rumored spin-off movie? Is Venom now dead as well?
Update: Just reading some more things on different sites and actually this makes a lot more sense that the speculative crap I just came up with. The script was garbage and Raimi wasn't ready to just swallow it to meet Sony's 2011 release. So Sony earned itself Retard Of The Year by taking the people responsible for creating this franchise and throwing them under the bus, thinking they can just magically find a new director and lead star and still have the magic and hundreds of millions in ticket sales. But I was right, that kind of stupidity is very much status quo.