There’s a reason why your two most recent Spider-Man movies have failed to live up to expectations at the box office.
You aren’t making Spider-Man movies. You’re manufacturing them.
You are creating Spider-Man movies to retain your rights, and in the hopes that you can create a mega-franchise of movies that will cross over into each other. But this isn’t how you create a blockbuster that connects with people and becomes a cultural phenomenon. You create a blockbuster that connects with people and becomes a cultural phenomenon by telling a story that comes from somewhere deep and true. You don’t do it by making as many movies as you possibly can because you want your own Avengers-style franchise.
Audiences are smart. They see right through this. And they can tell when a movie is made with a corporation’s bottom line in mind, not a great story. They know when a movie is being dictated to them, by dozens of people with a dozen different agendas, and not told to them by a small team of storytellers who simply want to tell a great story.
All you need to do is look at other movies that connected with people, became cultural phenomenons, and eventually turned into enduring classics. Ghostbusters was a concept imagined by one person, Dan Aykroyd. Back to the Future was written by two screenwriters named Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale who had a good idea about a kid traveling back in time. Star Wars was born solely from the mind of George Lucas, who wrote it because he wanted to see a movie like that made.
What did all these writers have in common? They wanted to tell a good story.
They weren’t thinking about retaining their movie rights. They weren’t concerned about toy sales, or the international market, or their bottom line. They weren’t trying to make one movie, and then another movie, and then another movie, so they could then simply combine all those movies into one giant movie and make a billion dollars, because someone else did it. They simply had a story to tell, they wanted to tell it, and they did. With the help of a lot of other talented filmmakers, they went out, told their personal story, and hoped it connected with audiences the same way it connected to them. In these cases, it did. Because the audience knows when something is deep, personal, and true.
Moviegoers know when something is false. They know when something is made because a studio hired a bunch of people to make something as quickly as possible, in the hopes of having a big opening weekend and possible sequels. They don’t connect to these movies, because there’s nothing to connect to. It’s been manufactured, the same way a car, a stereo, or a set of headphones is manufactured. You can’t connect with something that’s manufactured. There’s no life to it.
If you want to know where to look for your next Spider-Man movie, find a writer or director who loves the character and his world. Ask him or her to pitch their story to you. If you like it, and it’s true to the character and his stories, hire that person. And then step away. Let that person make your movie. Chances are, they will create something that people love.
Because it will connect to them. It will connect to something deep inside, to thoughts and dreams and fears they have always had, possibly their entire lives. Or maybe it will just entertain them and make them laugh, feel excitement, and feel good about going to the movies.
Whatever it will do, it will make them feel. Something your recent Spider-Man movies cannot do, because they were not told because someone had a good story to tell. They were told because a product had to be manufactured.