January 25, 2022

the discontinued version of Cannon Films

In 1985, Cannon Films was in the process of producing a Spider-Man film that never came to fruition. What should this version of the Weaver look like?

Ahead of the legendary Sam Raimi trilogy, which will mark not only a turning point for the superhero genre, but the cinema as a whole, other contenders have been vying to adapt Spider-Man to the big screen. Different renowned directors have been considered to carry such a burden (like David Fincher and his abandoned preview or James Cameron and “his best film that will never see the light of day”), but also studios, and not the most glorious..

In the 1980s, Cannon Films, then known for its low-budget productions, acquired the rights to make a film about the friendly neighborhood Spider. From the horrific beginnings of the project to a more classic versus with Doctor Octopus, What could a Spider-Man movie stamped with Cannon, the studio master of Series B have looked like?

When horror calls her far away

Eight-legged genesis

As recalled Digital Spy, it is therefore in the mid-1980s that Cannon Films made its business, claiming the rights to produce a Spider-Man film for a bite of bread, namely $ 225,000. A godsend all the greater since the character is far from being a job on the Marvel calendar, and would guarantee a lot of income for the production company. However, this right is only valid for five years, which poses a countdown to developing the film.

Director Tobe Hooper, then known for doing ten years earlier Chainsaw Massacre, is attached to the project. It is a choice that may seem surprising (as much as Sam Raimi and his saga Evil Dead, after all), but that will make total sense with the intentions of the production … who wants to make his Spider-Man a horror movie. But how do you adapt the story of the Weaver in a horrific way? To that, Cannon replies, “By not adapting the Weaver’s story.” We hang on because it’s good, as they say.

Spider-Man: Photo Tobey MaguirePut on your glasses, you’ll need to see it to believe it

Hooper and Cannon sweep away from the beginnings of the project the typical ingredients of a Spider-Man film. Exit the schoolboy, the bite of the radioactive spider, the superhero in tights who serves the widow and the orphan, and make way Peter Parker, immediately journalist. He sees himself, for some reason, kidnapped by an evil mad scientist named “Doctor Zork”. In all his villainy, Zork turns Peter into an eight-legged monster.

Peter, horrified to have become Fly by David Cronenberg (an often used reference to describe the project), is a literally spider-like abomination, who cannot stand his own sight so much that he develops suicidal thoughts. But rather than end his life, he decides to use the abilities of his monstrous mutation to prevent Zork from unleashing more abominations that he was able to conceive, and that he intends to use to dominate the world. A very original program.

Spider-Man : photo, Cliff RobertsonAnd Ben Parker was a synthezoid designed by an alien species to watch over Peter, too?

Back to basics

Faced with this Spider-Man who is only in name, Stan Lee, screenwriter and editor of legend at Marvel, used his god complex for saving purposes, sincehe called on all these beautiful people to refocus the film around the classic ideas that forged the Spider-Man mythology. The message was clear: a little fidelity to the original material wouldn’t hurt, otherwise we were heading for disaster.

The complaint being heard, the scenario is restarted from zero. Hooper leaves the ship and is replaced by Joseph Zito (Friday the 13th: Final Chapter). This time, the basic ideas are more sober. Peter Parker is at university, with the famous Otto Octavius ​​as professor of science, who would become the deadly Doctor Octopus. Without knowing how, the superheroic genesis of Peter and super-villainous Octavius ​​were intertwined. Also, May Parker must have been relatively young (the model apparently wanted was that of adult Katharine Hepburn).

Spider-Man : Homecoming : Photo Marisa TomeiNot so avant-garde as that

Another detail that will seem stupid, but which still appears in the lot of knowledge that we have about the project, Octavius ​​had the tic of saying “Okey Dokey!”. How? ‘Or’ What ? Why ? We don’t know anything about it, and we agree that it questions the meaning of the priorities of the studio teams, who nevertheless managed to decree such an uninteresting and questionable detail. But, in truth, lots of little ideas like this were swarming (for example we wanted Peter to have a dog, but it was too expensive for production).

Among the slightly crispier anecdotes, he thought that Tom Cruise, then new to the film industry, could have played Peter Parker. Finally, the studio will have cast Scott Leva. We also talk about Bob Hoskins in Octopus, but especially Stan Lee who would have liked to play the role of journalist John Jonah Jameson (thank God, the first known interpretation of the character will be that of JK Simmons in the collective imagination).

Spider-Man : photo, Scott Leva (version Cannon)A first rendering in the air of Superman

Super stampede

Cowardice aside, it’s interesting to know that the movie was advanced enough to afford to have a trailer. Or rather, a sort of teaser, which announced that a Spider-Man movie was going to go into production and hit the big screen. This shows the confidence that the studio had in its product, although it will never succeed. “Disgusting quality” alert:

Cannon Films Poster

But why the project collapsed, especially since it had the high budget (for the time and for such a studio) of 20 million dollars? In 1987 come out Superman IV: The Face-to-Face and Masters of the Universe, both produced by Cannon. Sadly, the movies turn out to be good big critical and commercial failures, which make questioning the effectiveness of the superheroic genre in cinema, among studio pundits.

Resulting a budget cut of ten million dollars for the film Spider-Man, or half of the money allocated to him. Blaming this hard blow, Joseph Zito is disgusted and, $ 1.5 million injected later into the project, he leaves it. Cannon immediately freezes the film’s pre-production. Time passes, and the five years of production rights for a Spider-Man film are lost, reverting to Marvel. End of the project. A few years later, Cannon struggled and took a hiatus from the movie business to restructure.