Date: July 07 2012
IS IT too soon for another Spider-Man?
Just a decade after Tobey Maguire starred in the first of three superhero movies that took more than $2.5 billion at the box office, Hollywood is about to learn whether restarting the series with Andrew Garfield in the famous red and blue costume will pay off.
Since Sony Pictures announced it would make The Amazing Spider-Man after a planned fourth chapter with director Sam Raimi was scrapped, there has been widespread cynicism about the ''reboot'' that reached cinemas this week.
Apart from wanting to retain the rights to one of the comic world's most popular characters and wring more money from fans, why the hurry to retell a familiar story about a nerdy teenager who becomes a superhero after being bitten by a genetically modified spider?
A poll on a Hollywood industry website found an overwhelming 72 per cent of people thought it was too soon to reboot the series.
But even if critics are questioning the need for the movie, positive reviews followed by strong early ticket sales suggest the studio's gamble might just work.
''There was healthy cynicism out there,'' concedes the managing director of Sony Pictures Australia, Stephen Basil-Jones. ''But people have come out to say 'let's have a look' and [they are liking] what they see.''
In the US, the new Spider-Man looks likely to take a better-than-expected $115 million to $135 million in its first six days.
But the studio is really looking to cash in from the international markets, including Asia and Europe, that made Spider-Man 3 the highest-grossing chapter despite being creatively the weakest of the trilogy. And takings will be boosted by higher ticket prices for 3D, large-screen and Gold Class sessions.
In Australia, Sony's exit polls have shown how testosterone-dominated the audience for comic book superheroes is: 70 per cent of viewers have been males aged 10 to 30.
More families are expected once they have seen their likely first choice during the school holidays, Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, and more women because of Emma Stone's performance as Spider-Man's love interest.
In the past year, movies based on comic books and graphic novels have taken more than $110 million in this country, headed by The Avengers and Men In Black 3. In the next two months, another $70 million is expected to be added as Spider-Man is followed into cinemas in less than a fortnight by The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan's third Batman movie.
Mr Basil-Jones believes much of the success of comic book movies is the way filmmakers have updated characters to make them more relevant to audiences.
It's a point echoed by Spider-Man's director, Marc Webb, who says the new web-slinger deals with ''abandonment issues'' and bullying at school.
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