BEVERLY HILLS, California — Three hugely popular movie franchises are awaiting his decision on where they’ll go next; on Friday, he just might launch a fourth. October is a scary month for most of us, but life has never been better for Sam Raimi.
In a far-ranging discussion on Tuesday (October 16), the A-list producer/director gave MTV News the latest scoop on the future of the “Spider-Man,” “Evil Dead” and “Lord of the Rings” franchises — as well as “30 Days of Night,” the buzz-heavy, bloodthirsty vampire flick that he made through his production company, Ghost House Pictures. (Plus check out his thoughts on remaking “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” a sequel to “The Grudge” and other projects in the MTV Movies Blog.)
“I’m excited to see it with a big crowd,” he said of “30 Days.” “It’s the kind of movie you want to see with a bunch of people in the audience, hopefully on a Friday or a Saturday night when all the kids are coming together, almost as a dare experience.”
Better than most, Raimi knows what it takes to get bunches of kids into a theater on a Friday night. So naturally, during our exclusive interview with the ground-breaking filmmaker, we had to get the latest scoop on his other seismic projects, including “Spider-Man 4.”
“Right now, a writer is being sought to write the next installment,” Raimi said of the future of Peter Parker, following Marvel’s recent separation from original “Spider-Man 4″ writer David Koepp, who also wrote the script for the first film. “We’re in the very early stages.”
When last we spoke with the director of the first three Spidey movies, he mentioned plans to work both the Lizard and the supervillain group the Sinister Six into the next blockbuster flick. Over the last few months, however, Raimi and Marvel have decided to be more receptive of reinvention. “I won’t be working on the story,” he revealed, insisting he’ll adopt a hands-off approach. “It’ll be a brand-new writer coming in with a brand-new story — a fresh take on the Spider-Man series.”
This “fresh take” might not only include the comic’s most obscure supervillains, but also entirely new story lines that diverge from (or even contradict) plot details from the three Tobey Maguire flicks. “We’re hearing different versions right now and really enjoying the different stories,” Raimi said. “Hopefully, we’ll hear one that sounds right for the fourth installment.”
Asked if he’ll then make the key decision to direct the script or take a step back as solely a producer, Raimi nodded. “Yes, that’s right. In this case, it’s more in the writer’s hands. I’m going to let the writer envision where Peter Parker would go to next.”
In the months following the success of “Spider-Man 3″ and Topher Grace’s breakout baddie, Venom, Marvel revealed plans for a spinoff flick. For the first time, Raimi weighed in on his connection with that flick, remaining consistent with a supposedly less-than-enthusiastic attitude toward the terrifyingly tongued alien. “That’s probably for someone else,” he grinned.
Speaking of fourth films, Raimi also spoke enthusiastically about the future of the tirelessly popular franchise that launched his career. This weekend, “Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn” will once again play to a sold-out crowd at the Nuart Theatre in West Los Angeles, California.
“I’m very happy about that,” he said of the screening, which will mark the 20th anniversary of the film’s release. “It’s surprising, because we never thought — Bruce Campbell, Rob Tapert and myself — when we were making those horror films that they’d have any life beyond the drive-ins. We didn’t know that there’d be such a thing as video or DVD, that they’d be around this long.”
Having long dreamed of a fourth chance to get “Evil,” Raimi said the time might be nearing. “Maybe we’ll make another one; it would be nice to at some point, if I could get together with Bruce and Rob, and we could get a story together and the financing,” Raimi said. “A lot of things would have to come together, but it would be nice.”
Following the $100 million toy box that is the “Spider-Man” films, Raimi insisted that he’d still make his “Dead” sequel the same way he used to. “I think it would probably have to be made as a cheap, cheap picture,” he said, rejecting the big-budget mindset. “That’s the only way it could be true to what it really wants to be.”
If Ash isn’t resurrected for a third sequel, Raimi said there’s another possibility. “[The remake] is another way we’ve talked about going. We do want to reinvigorate the ’Evil Dead’ series and either make a fourth installment or find a director to take a new approach to it,” he explained. “So far, we haven’t focused on that enough. But we hope one day to find a director who can bring a new vision to that simple campfire story, that dumb simple story, and bring it to the screen in 35-millimeter and really pack a lot of new punch to it.
“I look forward to someone else reinterpreting it,” he added, “or going back to the story with part four myself.”
Then, of course, there’s the thorny issue of “The Hobbit.” Since Raimi revealed months ago that he’d love to direct the next movie in the “Lord of the Rings” franchise, series mastermind Peter Jackson has begun making moves to once again reclaim his preciousss. Offering up his humble respect for a fellow filmmaker, Raimi is now graciously willing to step aside.
“Well, it really is Peter Jackson’s project, and I wouldn’t make any conditions. If Peter Jackson wanted to direct it, I think that makes the most sense,” he said, backing off.
“I’m a giant fan of the book, and of Peter Jackson and his ’Lord of the Rings’ trilogy,” Raimi said of the reasons he had wanted to make sure the franchise didn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Insisting he hasn’t been privy to recent talks between Jackson and New Line Cinema (“I don’t know the latest”), Raimi did leave the “Hobbit” door open with one request: that the “Lord of the Rings” filmmaker would do the same thing for him that Raimi just did for “30 Days of Night” director David Slade.
“If [Jackson] didn’t want to direct it, and he was producing it,” Raimi said, stating his two conditions, “then I would love to be considered for the project.”
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