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 12:00 AM, 27-APRIL-07
 
Producers Beefed Up Spidey 3

Sam Raimi, writer/director of Spider-Man 3, told SCI FI Wire that he had a smaller sequel in mind with fewer characters, until producers Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin suggested adding a key villain and a key love interest. "I had worked on the story with my brother, Ivan, and primarily it was a story that featured the Sandman [Thomas Haden Church]," Raimi said in a news conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., last week. "It was really about Peter, Mary Jane, Harry and that new character."

That's Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire), Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and Harry Osborn (James Franco). Then Ziskin suggested adding Gwen Stacy, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, a popular character in the Marvel comics, who was Peter Parker's first love interest before she perished and before Mary Jane Watson appeared.

"Well, my brother and I had written in the story about another woman that recognized Peter and knew who he was at this dinner and that Mary Jane got jealous of her," Raimi said. "But Laura Ziskin, my producer, said, 'Let's make it Gwen.' And I said, 'I don't think I should, because, ... really, Gwen was introduced before Mary Jane in the comic books, and now I'm introducing her later, and ... she's not even in high school anymore. She's in college. And I'm afraid if I introduce Gwen, the fans will have all these expectations, which we're not going to deliver in this picture.' And she said, 'Well, the fans would much rather have Gwen make an introduction now, and you can do what you need to do or someone can do what they need to do in the fourth picture with her, but at least you've introduced her, and they would appreciate that.'"

Raimi said he considered the suggestion. "After much soul-searching, I thought, 'Maybe it's true. I've already screwed up the order, and I've already started the Mary Jane [storyline] first,'" Raimi said. "'Whenever [Gwen's] introduced, she'll be introduced in the wrong order. I might as well give the fans the introduction to Gwen.' So I took her advice and named her Gwen Stacy and therefore connected her to a policeman who had been on the periphery of the scenes [and became her father, Capt. Stacy, played by James Cromwell]. Made a little stronger relationship between them but, not much, just enough to be true to the fact that she was his daughter. That's about all."

As he has discussed previously, Raimi added that it was Arad's idea to add the villain Venom to the mix. "Avi Arad, my partner and the former president of Marvel at the time, said to me, 'Sam, ... you're not paying attention to the fans enough,'" Raimi said. "'You need to think about them. You've made two movies now with your favorite villains, and now you're about to make another one with your favorite villains. The fans love Venom. He is the fan favorite. All Spider-Man readers love Venom, and even though you came from '70s Spider-Man, this is what the kids are thinking about. Please incorporate Venom. Listen to the fans now.' And so that's really where I realized, 'OK, maybe I don't have the whole Spider-Man universe in my head. I need to learn a little bit more about Spider-Man and maybe incorporate this villain to make some of the real die-hard fans of Spider-Man finally happy.'" Spider-Man 3 opens May 4. —Patrick Lee, News Editor
 


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Because of the Labor Day holiday, SCI FI Wire won't be updated again until Sept. 4.

Ain't It Cool News reported several rumors concerning J.J. Abrams' upcoming untitled monster movie, code-named Cloverfield, which opens Jan. 18, 2008.

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Source: Nielsen Galaxy Report, 8/13/07 -- 8/19/07