James Horner Didn’t Return to Score ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’ Because It Was “Terrible”
‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’ was not a good movie. This is not news. Despite it’s ambitious setup to multiple sequels and spinoffs, the last Spider-Man movie was the least grossing film in the entire franchise by a wide margin (down over $60 million from the first ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ movie). Spider-Man is one of the most recognizable heroes worldwide, yet interest in this flagging franchise is at an all-time low. How exactly did it get this bad? Let James Horner, who composed the score for the first film and declined to return for the second, help explain.
Horner was invited back for ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2' but once he got wind of some behind-the-scenes turmoil, and the quality of the film, he quickly beat foot in the opposite direction. Here he explains to his fansite (yes, James Horner has a fansite):
[Director Marc Webb] was very inexperienced and he and I had a very good relationship and the producers had their own opinion. And they didn’t want his input. And then Sony had their own, they just wanted action. To me, the whole thing about doing the first movie was I liked the director and there was a chance to write something for the two lead characters and then she dies in the next movie. But the next movie ended up being so terrible, I didn’t want to do it. It was just dreadful.
It was dreadful. And terrible. (And, the sad thing was, it was actually an improvement over the first film.) Horner was wise to notice a stinker early on. He would be replaced by a mish-mash or artists from Hans Zimmer to Pharrell to Johnny Marr who all worked on the electro-heavy rock beats you heard in the movie. But, what’s most interesting is Horner’s description of the behind-the-scenes power struggle and the real reason why Sony is having trouble with the ‘Spider-Man’ franchise: Themselves.
Sony and producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach hired Webb off ‘500 Days of Summer’ but never allowed him to have any real creative freedom. The project was micro-managed at almost every level and it seems like what Webb wanted was drastically different than what the producers wanted which was drastically different from what the studio wanted. All of which was different than what the fans wanted.
It jives with the picture Andrew Garfield painted earlier this year when asked to explain the film. He said, at the time:
Certain people at the studio had problems with certain parts of [the movie] and ultimately the studio is the final say in those movies, because they’re the tentpoles, so you have to answer to those people.
Having a studio dictate the tone of the movie is not uncommon in Hollywood, nor is it the death knell for a film. The score for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ was written before James Gunn was even hired. Joss Whedon hired a good deal of ‘Avengers’ material that was developed in-house at Marvel when he took that job. The difference is Marvel knows what they want and have a very clear vision. Sony, and their Spider-Man producers, do not. This is why ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ a title no one knew anything about one year ago, out-grossed ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2' by over $120 million.
It now seems unlikely that the planned ‘Amazing Spider-Man 3' will ever happen and with each passing day it seems more and more likely that the ‘Spider-Man’ franchise will be rebooted. Again. But, first it may make sense for the studio to let the franchise cool off first. Sony can’t afford another “dreadful” sequel, because that may be too much for them to overcome any time soon.