Sony may bite on Spidey spinoff

Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:45am EDT
 
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By Steven Zeitchik

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - With Heath Ledger's villainous Joker drawing attention and box office dollars, Sony is moving forward with "Venom," a potential "Spider-Man" spinoff based on a bad guy.

The studio is developing the project, based on the gooey nemesis who appeared in 2007's "Spider-Man 3" and is hoping the character could serve as an antidote to the aging "Spider-Man" franchise just as Fox has used Wolverine to add longevity to its "X-Men" franchise.

But getting any spinoff off the ground, let alone one centered on a villain, can be tricky.

The studio had commissioned a draft of the script from Jacob Estes, a writer of the specialty film "Mean Creek," released several years ago by Paramount Classics. But the studio is considering going in a different direction from Estes' script and is seeking writers for a new draft.

Casting also is no simple matter. Topher Grace of "That '70s Show" fame played the character in the film, but Sony is not yet convinced the actor can carry a big "tentpole" picture.

Neither Sony nor Marvel would comment for this story.

In "Spider-Man 3," Venom is essentially a parasite that attaches itself to a host via a sticky substance that then gives the host special powers. The fact that it is a substance rather than a character could give Sony leeway to cast a new actor.

"Venom" came about as part of the licensing deal between Marvel and Sony for the Spider-Man movies, which contained provisions allowing for the use of spinoffs based on other Spider-Man characters.   Continued...

 
<p>Actor Topher Grace arrives to attend the premiere of the film "Spiderman 3" during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York April 30, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>