June 1, 2023
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ColumnsPopped Culture

Column: Spider-Man re-release disrespects fans

The idea of extended or director’s cuts should be to expand upon a director’s original vision for a film before a studio demands they edit it down or rework it entirely. Unfortunately, Sony’s limited theatrical re-release of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” adds nothing to the original film but a bitter taste in the mouths of fans.

A recent example of a major director’s cut of a film that was able to make a film better than its original theatrical cut is “Zack Snyder’s Justice League.” While the release of this film has created its own set of problems in the form of a toxic fanbase, as a showing of an artist’s vision, it accomplished something many people did not think was possible. Snyder was given the opportunity to take a film that was essentially stripped from him after a personal tragedy occurred in his life and make it his again.

The leftover scenes Sony had from “Spider-Man: No Way Home” were nowhere near deserving of any sort of new version of the film, especially one that was theatrically released. Instead of making the experience of watching the film better, all these added scenes do is make it feel slower. They do not necessarily decrease the enjoyment of watching the film, but they certainly make the viewer wonder what the point of their inclusion is from an artistic point of view.

When looking into the specific details of this re-release, one could gauge that it is nothing more than a blatant cash grab by Sony, which hopes to wring out a few extra bucks from additional scenes that were not strong enough to make it into the original cut of the film.

It can only be speculated why Sony opted to go the frankly immoral route they did by releasing deleted scenes that were originally intended to be featured on the film’s Blu-Ray release in the form of a new theatrical release. One possibility is that they chose to produce and release this new version of the film with an aim to recoup some of the money they lost from the release and subsequent re-release of one of their other Spider-Man Universe films, “Morbius.” Budgeted at $75 million, the critically-panned “Morbius” grossed only $163 million worldwide with only $74 million coming from the domestic box office. 

When compared to “No Way Home”’s $1.9 billion worldwide and nearly $805 million domestic, “Morbius”’s box office gross is all the more pitiful. As of now, “No Way Home”’s re-release has made $177 million, which is more than “Morbius” was able to make with its original release and subsequent re-release combined.

With all of this contextualized, it should come as a surprise to no one that the “More Fun Stuff” re-release of “No Way Home” is an effort by Sony to sway the conversation away from “Morbius” and set the narrative back in their favor ahead of the Spider-Man Universe releases they have lined up for the next couple of years. These releases revolve around characters that the average comic book fan has never heard of, let alone the average viewer, such as “Madame Web” in October 2023 and the Bad Bunny-led “El Muerto” in January 2024.

Unfortunately, if “Morbius” and the two “Venom” films that Sony have already produced have proven anything, it’s that fans should only expect the worst from a studio that does not care about producing quality films as long as they turn a profit. Only time will tell if “Morbius”’s failure will finally make them care.

As a “Spider-Man” fan, it is confusing how the same company in charge of teams behind the Academy Award-winning “Into the Spiderverse” and the acclaimed “Spider-Man” Playstation titles cannot seem to get the property right in live-action. The logical thing for Sony to do would have been to pick and choose people from both of the teams behind these projects to work on their new Spider-Man Universe films. Instead, they have opted to hire writers and directors with lackluster track records to produce awful movies no one has ever asked for or wanted.

With the talent they have in their own studio, one would think that they would put in the slightest amount of effort to give some of these high-caliber projects to filmmakers and storytellers with proven talent and track records in telling stories within the Spider-Man Universe.

However, it is clear that they would rather put in the least effort possible in hopes of making a quick buck. Besides, what do they really have to lose so long as producer Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios are making them money off their “Spider-Man” films without Sony having to so much as lift a finger?

Movie studios cannot afford to be lazy and push out one terrible film after another. After a time, this pattern will catch up to them. With the high-caliber films Sony Pictures has produced in the past, they should be setting an industry example of how a studio is able to thrive and be a leader for others to follow. Instead, they are setting an example for all other studios of what not to do with major properties. With Sony set to eventually rip Tom Holland’s “Spider-Man” away from Marvel Studios in order to bring him into its own Spider-Man universe, the studio will be primed and ready to destroy the franchise all over again.

Evan Miller can be reached at emiller11@ithaca.edu