Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sam Raimi|
|Music by||Christopher Young|
|Edited by||Bob Murawski|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$890.9 million|
Spider-Man 3 is a 2007 American superhero film based on the fictional Marvel Comics character Spider-Man. It was directed by Sam Raimi from a screenplay by Raimi, his older brother Ivan and Alvin Sargent. It is the final entry in Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy. The film stars Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker / Spider-Man, alongside Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard, James Cromwell, Rosemary Harris and J. K. Simmons. Set shortly after the events of Spider-Man 2, as Peter Parker prepares his future with Mary Jane Watson, he bonds with an extraterrestrial symbiote, bringing out his anger while facing two villains: Uncle Ben's true killer, who becomes Sandman after a freak accident; and Harry Osborn, who seeks to avenge his father.
Development of Spider-Man 3 began immediately after the release of Spider-Man 2 for a 2007 release. During pre-production, Raimi originally wanted another villain to be included along with Sandman. At the request of producer Avi Arad, he added Venom and the producers also requested the addition of Gwen Stacy. Principal photography for the film began in January 2006, and took place in Los Angeles and Cleveland before moving to New York City from May until July 2006. Additional pick-up shots were made after August and the film wrapped in October 2006. During post-production, Sony Pictures Imageworks created over 900 visual effects shots. With an estimated production budget of $258 million, it was the most expensive film ever made at the time of its release.
Spider-Man 3 premiered on April 16, 2007 in Tokyo, and was released in the United States in both conventional and IMAX theaters on May 4, 2007. The film grossed $890.9 million worldwide, making it the most successful film of the trilogy, the third-highest-grossing film of 2007 and was the highest-grossing Spider-Man film until it was surpassed by Spider-Man: Far From Home in 2019. Unlike the previous installments, Spider-Man 3 received a mixed reception from critics, who praised the performances, visual effects and action sequences, but criticized the overloaded storylines and subplots, alongside the unrefined pacing and overabundance of villains. The majority of these issues were later attributed to studio interferences and creative differences between Sony, Raimi and Arad.
A fourth installment, titled Spider-Man 4, was set to be released on May 6, 2011, followed by a Venom spin-off film, but both were cancelled due to Raimi's withdrawal over creative differences with the writers and producers. The Spider-Man film series was rebooted twice; first with The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) by Marc Webb and starring Andrew Garfield; and later a new film series set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, directed by Jon Watts and starring Tom Holland, beginning with Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017). The Venom spin-off was revived in 2016 by Sony and was finally released in 2018 with Venom, set within Sony's Marvel Universe directed by Ruben Fleischer.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Release
- 5 Reception
- 6 Cancelled franchise and first reboot
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Peter Parker plans to propose to Mary Jane Watson, who has just made her Broadway musical debut. Later, a meteorite lands at Central Park, and an extraterrestrial symbiote follows Peter to his apartment. Harry Osborn, seeking vengeance after his father's death and having taken the performance-enhancing gas, attacks Peter with his father's Green Goblin technology, but the battle ended with Harry unconscious and with amnesia, wiping out his memory of Peter as Spider-Man. Meanwhile, police pursue escaped convict Flint Marko, who visits his wife and dying daughter before fleeing again. Falling into an experimental particle accelerator that fuses his DNA with the surrounding sand, he is transformed into the Sandman with powers to control sand and reform his body with it.
During a festival honoring Spider-Man for saving Gwen Stacy's life, he kisses Gwen, infuriating Mary Jane. Meanwhile, Marko robs an armored car, subduing Spider-Man while escaping. NYPD Captain George Stacy, Gwen's father, informs Peter and Aunt May that Marko was Uncle Ben's true killer; the deceased Dennis Carradine had been Marko's accomplice. In his apartment, while Peter sleeps in his Spider-Man suit to wait for Flint, the symbiote assimilates the suit; Peter later awakens atop a building, discovering his costume has changed and his powers are enhanced; however, the symbiote brings out Peter's emotions. Spider-Man locates Marko and battles him in a subway tunnel. Discovering that water is Marko's weakness, Spider-Man destroys the pipe, causing its water to reduce Marko to mud and wash him away.
Peter's changed personality alienates Mary Jane, whose career is floundering after she has been fired from her show. She shares a tender moment with Harry, but leaves afterward in regret. Harry recovers from his amnesia and, urged by a hallucination of his father, blackmails Mary Jane into breaking up with Peter. After Mary Jane tells Peter she loves "somebody else", Harry meets with Peter and claims to be that person. Peter confronts Harry over this and spitefully tells Harry his father never loved him. Another fight ensues, with Harry throwing a pumpkin bomb at Peter, who deflects it back, disfiguring Harry's face.
At the Daily Bugle, Peter exposes rival freelance photographer Eddie Brock, who had falsified photos to depict Spider-Man as a criminal. Publisher J. Jonah Jameson fires Brock and makes Peter a staff photographer. Later, to make Mary Jane jealous, Peter brings Gwen to a nightclub where Mary Jane now works. Realizing this, Gwen leaves the nightclub while Peter attacks bouncers and accidentally hits Mary Jane. Peter realizes the symbiote is corrupting him and retreats to a church's bell tower where, upon realizing loud sound weakens the creature, he removes the symbiote. The symbiote bonds with Brock, transforming him into Venom. Brock locates Marko, who survived being washed away, and convinces him to join forces to defeat Spider-Man.
Brock kidnaps Mary Jane and holds her as bait from a web high in a construction site, while Marko keeps police at bay. After Harry refuses to help Peter, he finally learns the truth about his father's death. While Peter battles Brock and Marko, Harry arrives to help him with his Green Goblin technology. Brock attempts to impale Peter with Harry's glider, but Harry jumps in and is impaled himself. Remembering the symbiote's weakness, Peter assembles a perimeter of metal pipes to create a sonic attack, weakening it and allowing Peter to separate Brock from the symbiote. He activates a pumpkin grenade from Harry's glider and throws it at the symbiote. However, Brock, who became addicted to the symbiote's influence, leaps into the symbiote in an attempt to save it, but is killed along with the symbiote.
Afterward, Marko explains that Ben's death was an accident that has haunted Marko ever since. Peter forgives him, and Marko turns into a cloud of sand and peacefully flies away. Harry subsequently dies from his injuries. Following Harry's funeral, Peter and Mary Jane reconcile and share a dance.
- Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker / Spider-Man:
A physics student at Columbia University and freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle, who gets spider-like abilities from a genetically-modified spider and uses them to take up the persona of a spider-based vigilante protecting New York City from its criminal underworld.
- Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson:
A Broadway actress, and Peter's girlfriend.
- James Franco as Harry Osborn / New Goblin:
The vengeful son of the late Norman Osborn and Peter's estranged best friend, who believes Spider-Man murdered his father, but after learning Peter is Spider-Man and his father was the Green Goblin, he tends to battle Peter directly as a psychopathic assassin armed with the same equipment as his father.
- Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko / Sandman:
A small-time thug with an estranged wife and sick daughter, whose struggle to rob for money to get his daughter treatment lures him into a freak accident that alters him into a master sand manipulator hunted by Spider-Man since he was Ben Parker's true killer.
- Topher Grace as Eddie Brock / Venom:
A rivalry former Daily Bugle journalist who is exposed by Peter for creating a fake Spider-Man image and later ready for revenge when he bonds with the symbiote, which turns him into monstrous being with the same spider-like powers.
- Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy:
Peter's lab partner and good friend, who is saved by Spider-Man from falling to her death. She is also Brock's love interest.
- James Cromwell as George Stacy:
Gwen's father, and a New York City Police Department captain.
- Rosemary Harris as May Parker:
Peter's aunt, who gives her nephew her engagement ring so he can propose to Mary Jane, and teaches him forgiveness.
- J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson:
The aggressive chief of the Daily Bugle, who despises Spider-Man.
Theresa Russell plays Emma Marko, Flint's wife, and their daughter Penny Marko is portrayed by Perla Haney-Jardine. Dylan Baker reprises his role as Dr. Curt Connors, Peter's college physics professor. Bill Nunn and Ted Raimi portray Daily Bugle employees Robbie Robertson and Ted Hoffman, and Elizabeth Banks plays Betty Brant, Jameson's receptionist. Willem Dafoe returns as Norman Osborn in a cameo who appears to Harry as a hallucination. Cliff Robertson reprises his role as Ben Parker in a cameo appearance, Peter's deceased uncle; it would be his final film performance. Elya Baskin plays Peter's landlord, Mr. Ditkovitch, while his daughter Ursula is played by Mageina Tovah. Michael Papajohn reprises his role as Dennis Carradine, a carjacker, who was believed to have murdered Ben. Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee has a cameo appearance in Spider-Man 3, as he does in many Marvel-based films. He plays a man who tells Peter that one person can make a difference.
As with the first two films, Bruce Campbell cameos as a French maître d' who tries helping Peter propose to Mary Jane. Years later, Jeffrey Henderson, who worked on the storyboards for the canceled Spider-Man 4 movie, released information regarding which villains would appear within the movie. One of those included Bruce Campbell's character's progression into Quentin Beck / Mysterio. Composer Christopher Young appears in the film as a pianist at Mary Jane's theater, while producer Grant Curtis appears as a driver of an armored car that the Sandman attacks. Joe Manganiello cameos as Flash Thompson where he is seen attending Harry Osborn's funeral.
—Sam Raimi, on how the character of Peter Parker developed in this film
In March 2004, with Spider-Man 2 being released the coming June, Sony had begun developing Spider-Man 3 for a release in summer 2007. By the release of Spider-Man 2, a release date for Spider-Man 3 had been set for May 2, 2007 before production on the sequel had begun. The date was later changed to May 4, 2007. In January 2005, Sony Pictures completed a seven-figure deal with screenwriter Alvin Sargent, who had penned Spider-Man 2, to script Spider-Man 3 with an option to script a fourth film.
Immediately after Spider-Man 2's release, Ivan Raimi wrote a treatment over two months, with Sam Raimi deciding to use the film to explore Peter learning that he is not a sinless vigilante, and that there also can be humanity in those he considers criminals. Harry Osborn was brought back as Raimi wanted to conclude his storyline. Raimi felt that Harry would not follow his father's legacy, but be instead "somewhere between." Sandman was introduced as an antagonist, as Raimi found him a visually fascinating character. While Sandman is a petty criminal in the comics, the screenwriters created a background of the character being Uncle Ben's killer to increase Peter's guilt over his death and challenge his simplistic perception of the event. Overall, Raimi described the film as being about Peter, Mary Jane, Harry, and the Sandman, with Peter's journey being one of forgiveness.
Raimi wanted another villain, and Ben Kingsley was involved in negotiations to play the Vulture before the character was cut. Producer Avi Arad convinced Raimi to include Venom, a character whose perceived "lack of humanity" had initially been criticized by Sam Raimi. Venom's alter-ego, Eddie Brock, already had a minor role in the script. Arad felt the series had relied too much on Raimi's personal favorite Spider-Man villains, not characters that modern fans were actually interested in, so Raimi included Venom to please them, and even began to appreciate the character himself. The film's version of the character is an amalgamation of Venom stories. Eddie Brock, Jr., the human part of Venom, serves as a mirror to Peter Parker, with both characters having similar jobs and romantic interests. Brock's actions as a journalist in Spider-Man 3 also represent contemporary themes of paparazzi and tabloid journalism. The producers also suggested adding rival love interest Gwen Stacy, filling in an "other girl" type that Raimi already created. With so many additions, Sargent soon found his script so complex that he considered splitting it into two films, but abandoned the idea when he could not create a successful intermediate climax.
Camera crews spent 2 weeks from November 5–18, 2005 to film sequences that would involve intense visual effects so Sony Pictures Imageworks could begin work on the shots early in the project. The same steps had been taken for Spider-Man 2 to begin producing visual effects early for sequences involving the villain Doctor Octopus.
Principal photography for Spider-Man 3 began on January 16, 2006 and wrapped in July 2006 after over 100 days of filming. The team filmed in Los Angeles until May 19, 2006. In spring 2006, film location manager Peter Martorano brought camera crews to Cleveland due to the Greater Cleveland Film Commission offering production space at the city's convention center at no cost. In Cleveland, they shot the battle between Spider-Man and Sandman in the armored car. Afterwards, the team moved to Manhattan, where filming took place at various locations, including One Chase Manhattan Plaza, from May 26, 2006 until July 1, 2006. Shooting placed a strain on Raimi, who often had to move between several units to complete the picture. Shooting was also difficult for cinematographer Bill Pope, as the symbiote Spider-Man, Venom, and the New Goblin were costumed in black during fight scenes taking place at night.
After August, pick-ups were conducted as Raimi sought to film more action scenes. The film then wrapped in October, although additional special effects shots were taken to finalize the production a month later. In early 2007, there were further pick-up shots regarding the resolution of Sandman's story, amounting to four different versions.
John Dykstra, who won the Academy Award for Visual Effects for his work on Spider-Man 2, declined to work on the third film as visual effects supervisor. Dykstra's colleague, Scott Stokdyk, took his place as supervisor, leading two hundred programmers at Sony Pictures Imageworks. This group designed specific computer programs that did not exist when Spider-Man 3 began production, creating nine hundred visual effects shots.
In addition to the innovative visual effects for the film, Stokdyk created a miniature of a skyscraper section at 1:16 scale with New Deal Studios's Ian Hunter and David Sanger. Stokdyk chose to design the miniature instead of using computer-generated imagery so damage done to the building could be portrayed realistically and timely without guesswork involving computer models. In addition, to Sony Pictures Imageworks, Cafe FX provided visual effects for the crane disaster scene when Spider-Man rescues Gwen Stacy, as well as shots in the climactic battle. To understand the effects of sand for the Sandman, experiments were done with twelve types of sand, such as splashing, launching it at stuntmen, and pouring it over ledges. The results were mimicked on the computer to create the visual effects for Sandman. For scenes involving visual effects, Thomas Haden Church was super-imposed onto the screen, where computer-generated imagery was then applied. With sand as a possible hazard in scenes that buried actors, ground-up corncobs were used as a substitute instead. Because of its resemblance to the substance, sand from Arizona was used as the model for the CG sand. In a fight where Spider-Man punches through Sandman's chest, amputee martial arts expert Baxter Humby took Tobey Maguire's place in filming the scene. Humby, whose right hand was amputated at birth, helped deliver the intended effect of punching through Sandman's chest.
Whereas the symbiote suit worn in the comics by Spider-Man was a plain black affair with a large white spider on the front and back, the design was changed for the film to become a black version of Spider-Man's traditional costume, complete with webbing motif. As a consequence of this, the suit Topher Grace wore as Venom also bore the webbing motif; as producer Grant Curtis noted, "it's the Spider-Man suit, but twisted and mangled in its own right." Additionally, the motif gave a sense of life to the symbiote, giving it the appearance of gripping onto the character's body. When animating the symbiote, Raimi did not want it to resemble a spider or an octopus, and to give it a sense of character. The CG model is made of many separate strands. When animating Venom himself, animators observed footage of big cats such as lions and cheetahs for the character's agile movements.
Originally, Danny Elfman, the composer for the previous installments, did not plan to return for the third installment of Spider-Man because of difficulties with director Sam Raimi. Elfman said that he had a "miserable experience" working with Raimi on Spider-Man 2 and could not comfortably adapt his music. Christopher Young was then announced to score Spider-Man 3 in Elfman's absence.
According to Young Sandman's theme uses "two contrabass saxophones, two contrabass clarinets, two contrabass bassoons and eight very low French horns" in order to sound "low, aggressive and heavy". Young described Venom's theme as "Vicious, my instructions on that one were that he's the devil personified. His theme is much more demonic sounding." Venom's theme uses eight French horns. Raimi approved the new themes during their first performance, but rejected the initial music to the birth of Sandman, finding it too monstrous and not tragic enough. Young had to recompose much of his score at a later stage, as the producers felt there were not enough themes from the previous films. Ultimately, new themes for the love story, Aunt May, and Mary Jane were dropped.
Spider-Man 3 had its world premiere at Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills in Tokyo on April 16, 2007. The film held its UK premiere on April 23, 2007 at the Odeon Leicester Square, and the U.S. premiere took place at the Tribeca Film Festival in Queens on April 30, 2007.
Spider-Man 3 was commercially released in sixteen territories on May 1, 2007. The film was released in Japan on May 1, 2007, three days prior to the American commercial release, to coincide with Japan's Golden Week. Spider-Man 3 was also released in China on May 3, 2007 to circumvent market growth of unlicensed copies of the film. The studio's release of a film in China before its domestic release was a first for Sony Pictures Releasing International. By May 6, 2007, Spider-Man 3 opened in 107 countries around the world.
The film was commercially released in the United States on May 4, 2007 in a North American record total of 4,253 theaters, including fifty-three IMAX theaters. The record number of theaters was later beaten by Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, which was released in 4,362 theaters in the United States—109 more than Spider-Man 3. Tracking data a month before the U.S. release reflected over 90% awareness and over 20% first choice among moviegoers, statistics that estimated an opening weekend of over $100 million for Spider-Man 3. Online tickets for Spider-Man 3 were reported on April 23, 2007 to have been purchased at a faster rate—three times at Movietickets.com and four times at Fandango—than online ticket sales for Spider-Man 2. On May 2, 2007, Fandango reported the sales rate as six times greater than the rate for Spider-Man 2. The strong ticket sales caused theaters to add 3:00 AM showings following the May 4, 2007 midnight showing to accommodate the demand.
The FX channel signed a five-year deal for the television rights to Spider-Man 3, which they began airing in 2009. The price was based on the film's box office performance, with an option for three opportunities for Sony to sell the rights to one or more other broadcast networks.
In New York City, the hometown of Spider-Man's fictional universe, tourist attractions arranged events and exhibits on April 30, 2007 to lead up to the release of Spider-Man 3. The unique campaign include a spider exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, workshops on baby spider plants at the New York Botanical Garden, Green Goblin mask-making workshop at the Children's Museum of Manhattan, and a scavenger hunt and a bug show at Central Park Zoo.
Hasbro, which holds the license for Marvel characters, released several toys to tie-in with the film. They include a deluxe spinning web blaster, along with several lines of action figures aimed at both children and collectors. Toys of the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus from the first two films have been re-released to match the smaller scale of the new figures, as have been toys of the Lizard, the Scorpion, Kraven the Hunter, and Rhino in a style reminiscent of the films. Techno Source created interactive toys, including a "hand-held Battle Tronics device that straps to the inside of a player's wrist and mimics Spidey's web-slinging motions". Japanese Medicom Toy Corporation produced collectables, which Sideshow Collectibles distributed in the U.S.
Spider-Man 3 was released on Region 4 DVD (anamorphic widescreen) in Australia on September 18, 2007. For Region 2 in the United Kingdom, the film was released on October 15, 2007. Spider-Man 3 was released on DVD in Region 1 territories on October 30, 2007. The film is available in one-disc and two-disc editions, on both standard and Blu-ray formats, as well as packages with the previous films and a PSP release. Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Ziskin, Avi Arad, and Grant Curtis are among those who contributed to the audio commentaries.
Sony announced plans to create "one of the largest" marketing campaigns in Hollywood for the October 30, 2007 release of the DVD. Beginning with a partnership with Papa John's, Sony printed close to 8.5 billion impressions for pizza boxes, television, radio, and online ads. Sony also worked with Pringles Potato Crisp, Blu Tack, Jolly Time Pop Corn, and Nutella. Sony's Vice President of Marketing, Jennifer Anderson, stated the studio spent approximately 15% to 25% of its marketing budget on digital ad campaigns; from this, Papa Johns sent text messages to mobile phones with ads. Anderson stated that there would be three sweepstakes held for consumers, where they would be able to win prizes from Sony and its promotional partners.
In the United States, the film grossed more than $125 million on DVD sales. It also grossed more than $43.76 million on DVD/Home Video Rentals in 11 weeks. However, the DVD sales results of this film did not meet industry expectations. The film's DVD sales were limited due to Sony's decision to bundle the Blu-ray version of the film with its new PlayStation 3 game console and Blu-ray player. Spider-Man 3 was included in The Spider-Man Legacy Collection which includes five major Spider-Man films in a 4K UHD Blu-Ray collection which was released on October 17, 2017.
Spider-Man 3: Editor's Cut (2017)
In 2017, Sony announced that an "editor's cut" of Spider-Man 3 would be released for its 10th anniversary, alongside the Spider-Man: Origins Blu-ray collection on June 13, 2017. The film features unused music from Christopher Young and is two minutes shorter than the theatrical cut. Some scenes are shifted around or have been completely removed, and the film includes three new scenes, three alternate scenes, and one extended scene. Spider-Man 3: Editor's Cut was later re-released with the Spider-Man Legacy Collection 4K Blu-ray Box Set.
Spider-Man 3 earned $336.5 million in North America and $554.3 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $890.9 million. Worldwide, it is the third-highest-grossing film of 2007, the highest-grossing film of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, and was the highest-grossing film distributed by Sony/Columbia until 2012's Skyfall. The film set a worldwide single-day record ($104 million) on its first Friday and broke its own record again on Saturday ($117.6 million). It also set a worldwide opening-weekend record with $381.7 million,. The film's IMAX screenings reached $20 million in 30 days, faster than any other 2D film remastered in the format.
In North America, Spider-Man 3 is the 58th-highest-grossing film, the third-highest-grossing film of the Spider-Man series, the third-highest-grossing film distributed by Sony/Columbia, and the highest-grossing 2007 film. The film sold an estimated 48,914,300 tickets. It was released in 4,252 theaters (about 10,300 screens) on Friday, May 4, 2007. It set an opening- and single-day record with $59.8 million (both were first surpassed by The Dark Knight). This included $10 million from midnight showings. Spider-Man 3 then set an opening-weekend record with $151.1 million (first surpassed by The Dark Knight), a record for the weekend per-theater average with $35,540 per theater (first surpassed by Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert), and an IMAX opening-weekend record with $4.8 million (first surpassed by The Dark Knight). The film set record Friday and Sunday grosses and achieved the largest cumulative gross through its second, third, and fourth day of release (all were first surpassed by The Dark Knight). It also set a record Saturday gross (surpassed by Marvel's The Avengers).
Outside North America, it is the 23rd-highest-grossing film, the highest-grossing film of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, and the third-highest-grossing film distributed by Sony/Columbia. On its opening day (Tuesday, May 1, 2007), Spider-Man 3 grossed $29.2 million from 16 territories, an 86% increase from the intake of Spider-Man 2 on its first day of release. In 10 of the 16 territories, Spider-Man 3 set new opening-day records. These territories are Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines, France, and Italy. In Germany, the film surpassed the opening-day gross of Spider-Man 2. During its six-day opening weekend (through its first Sunday), the film earned $230.5 million from 107 markets, finishing #1 in all of them. Spider-Man 3 set opening-weekend records in 29 markets including Italy, China, South Korea (the latter was first surpassed by Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End), India, Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Peru. However, many of these records were achieved thanks to its six-day opening, while previous record-holders in some countries opened over the traditional three-day weekend (traditional two-, four-, or five-day weekend in other countries). In India, it grossed $16.4 million and was the seventh-highest-grossing film of 2007 there. Spider-Man 3 was in first place at the box office outside North America for three consecutive weekends.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 63% approval rating based on 256 reviews, with an average rating of 6.24/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Though there are more characters and plotlines, and the action sequences still dazzle, Spider-Man 3 nonetheless isn't quite as refined as the first two." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 59 out of 100 based on 40 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Manohla Dargis of The New York Times deplored the film's pacing as "mostly just plods" and said it lacked humor. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film only 2 out of 4 stars, feeling, "for every slam-bang action sequence, there are far too many sluggish scenes." David Edelstein of New York magazine misses the "centrifugal threat" of Alfred Molina's character, adding that "the three villains here don't add up to one Doc Ock" (referring to Molina's portrayal of the character in Spider-Man 2). James Berardinelli felt director Sam Raimi "overreached his grasp" by allowing so many villains, specifically saying, "Venom is one bad guy too many." Roger Ebert, who gave Spider-Man 2 a glowing review, gave the sequel 2 out of 4 stars and thought Church never expressed how Sandman felt about his new powers, something Molina, as Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2, did "with a vengeance"; he said the film was "a mess," with too many villains, subplots, romantic misunderstandings, conversations and "street crowds looking high into the air and shouting 'oooh!' this way, then swiveling and shouting 'aaah!' that way." The New Yorker's Anthony Lane, who gave Spider-Man 2 a favorable review, gave the film a negative review, characterizing the film as a "shambles" which "makes the rules up as it goes along."
Roger Friedman of Fox News called the film a "4-star opera", noting that while long, there was plenty of humor and action. Andy Khouri of Comic Book Resources praised the film as "easily the most complex and deftly orchestrated superhero epic ever filmed […] despite the enormous amount of characters, action and sci-fi superhero plot going on in this film, Spider-Man 3 never feels weighted down, tedious or boring." Jonathan Ross, a big fan of the comic books, felt the film was the best of the trilogy. Richard Corliss of Time commended the filmmakers for their ability to "dramatize feelings of angst and personal betrayal worthy of an Ingmar Bergman film, and then to dress them up in gaudy comic-book colors". Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe, who gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, wrote that it was a well-made, fresh film, but would leave the viewer "overfulfilled". Jonathan Dean of Total Film felt the film's complex plot helped the film's pacing, in that, "it rarely feels disjointed or loose […] Spider-Man cements its shelf-life." Entertainment Weekly named the Sandman as the eighth best computer-generated film character.
John Hartl of MSNBC gave Spider-Man 3 a positive review, but stated that it has some flaws such as having "too many storylines". His opinion is echoed by Houston Chronicle's Amy Biancolli who complained that "the script is busy with so many supporting characters and plot detours that the series' charming idiosyncrasy is sometimes lost in the noise." Jack Matthews of Daily News thought the film was too devoted to the "quiet conversations" of Peter and Mary Jane, but that fans would not be disappointed by the action. Finally, Sean Burns of Philadelphia Weekly felt that the director "substituted scope and scale for the warmth and wit that made those two previous pictures so memorable." Raimi himself would later call the film "awful" during a podcast interview. Speaking to Screen Rant in 2018, Avi Arad also accepted responsibility for pushing Raimi to include Venom in the film, and how the end result had disappointed many fans of the character, saying "I think we learned that Venom is not a sideshow. In all fairness, I'll take the guilt because of what Sam Raimi used to say in all of these interviews feeling guilty that I forced him into it."
Both the 35th Annie Awards and 61st British Academy Film Awards gave this movie one nomination, the former for Best Animated Effects and the latter for Best Special Visual Effects. Spider-Man 3 did not win any of the four Visual Effects Society Awards nominations it received. Dunst's and Maguire's performances earned them each one nomination from the National Movie Awards. She also received another nomination for Favorite Movie Actress from the 2008 Kids' Choice Awards ceremony. The movie fared better at the Teen Choice Awards, amounting a total of seven nominations, varying from Choice Movie: Villain (for Grace) to Choice Movie: Dance (for Maguire) and Choice Movie: Liplock (shared between Dunst and Maguire).
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipients||Result|
|Annie Awards||February 8, 2008||Best Animated Effects||Ryan Laney||Nominated|
|British Academy Film Awards||February 10, 2008||Best Special Visual Effects||Scott Stokdyk, Peter Nofz, Kee-Suk Ken Hahn and Spencer Cook||Nominated|
|Kids' Choice Awards||March 29, 2008||Favorite Movie Actress||Kirsten Dunst||Nominated|
|Golden Trailer Awards||May 31, 2007||Best Summer Blockbuster||Spider-Man 3||Won|
|MTV Movie Award||June 1, 2008||Best Fight||James Franco and Tobey Maguire||Nominated|
|Best Villain||Topher Grace||Nominated|
|National Movie Awards||September 27, 2007||Best Family Film||Spider-Man 3||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Female||Kirsten Dunst||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Male||Tobey Maguire||Nominated|
|People's Choice Awards||January 8, 2008||Favorite On Screen Match-up||Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||June 24, 2008||Best Director||Sam Raimi||Nominated|
|Best Fantasy Film||Spider-Man 3||Nominated|
|Best Special Effects||Scott Stokdyk, Peter Nofz, Spencer Cook and John Frazier||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||James Franco||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||August 26, 2007||Choice Movie: Action Actor||Tobey Maguire||Nominated|
|Choice Movie: Action Actress||Kirsten Dunst||Nominated|
|Choice Movie: Action||Spider-Man 3||Nominated|
|Choice Movie: Dance||Tobey Maguire||Nominated|
|Choice Movie: Liplock||Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire||Nominated|
|Choice Movie: Rumble||James Franco, Tobey Maguire, Topher Grace and Thomas Haden Church||Nominated|
|Choice Movie: Villain||Topher Grace||Nominated|
|Visual Effects Society Award||February 10, 2008||Best Single Visual Effect of the Year||Scott Stokdyk, Terry Clotiaux, Spencer Cook and Douglas Bloom||Nominated|
|Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Motion Picture||Chris Y. Yang, Bernd Angerer, Dominick Cecere and Remington Scott||Nominated|
|Outstanding Models or Miniatures in a Motion Picture||Ian Hunter, Scott Beverly, Forest P. Fischer and Ray Moore||Nominated|
|Outstanding Visual Effects in an Effects Driven Motion Picture||Scott Stokdyk, Terry Clotiaux, Peter Nofz and Spencer Cook||Nominated|
Cancelled franchise and first reboot
In 2007, Spider-Man 4 entered development, with Raimi attached to direct and Maguire, Dunst and other cast members set to reprise their roles. Both a fourth and a fifth film were planned and at one time the idea of shooting the two sequels concurrently was under consideration. However, Raimi stated in March 2009 that only the fourth film was in development at that time and that if there were fifth and sixth films, those two films would actually be a continuation of each other. James Vanderbilt was hired in October 2007 to pen the screenplay after initial reports in January 2007 that Sony Pictures was in contact with David Koepp, who wrote the first Spider-Man film. The script was subsequently rewritten by Pulitzer-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire in November 2008 and rewritten again by Gary Ross in October 2009. Sony also engaged Vanderbilt to write scripts for Spider-Man 5 and Spider-Man 6.
In 2007, Raimi expressed interest in portraying the transformation of Dr. Curt Connors into his villainous alter-ego, the Lizard, a villain which had been teased since Spider-Man 2; the character's actor Dylan Baker and producer Grant Curtis were also enthusiastic about the idea. By December 2009, John Malkovich was in negotiations to play Vulture and Anne Hathaway would play Felicia Hardy, though she would not have transformed into the Black Cat as in the comics but a new superpowered figure, the Vulturess. According to sources online, an early draft of the film would have had the Vulture buying out the Daily Bugle, forcing Spider-Man to kill him. Felicia Hardy, Vulture's daughter in this version of the script, would have had an affair with Peter Parker in order to shatter his engagement with Mary Jane. These rumors were never confirmed. Raimi stated years later during an interview in 2013, however, that Hathaway was going to be Black Cat if Spider-Man 4 had been made.
Sony Pictures announced in January 2010 that plans for Spider-Man 4 had been cancelled due to Raimi's withdrawal from the project. Raimi reportedly ended his participation due to his doubt that he could meet the planned May 6, 2011 release date while at the same time upholding the film creatively. Raimi purportedly went through four iterations of the script with different screenwriters and still "hated it".
In July 2007, Sony executive Avi Arad revealed a spin-off of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy focused on Venom was in the planning stages, with Jacob Aaron Estes commissioned to write a script, tentatively entitled "Venom". In September 2008, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick signed on to write the film after Estes' script was rejected, while Gary Ross would direct. Variety reported that Venom would become an anti-hero in the film, and Marvel Entertainment would produce the film. The potential film was ultimately cancelled. The project languished in development hell for over a decade until it was eventually released in 2018, directed by Ruben Fleischer and starring Tom Hardy, replacing Topher Grace as the titular anti-hero.
J.K. Simmons, who portrayed J. Jonah Jameson in this film, would later go on to reprise the role in a Spider-Man: Far From Home mid-credits scene.
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