Caught in the Web: the Sticky Situation of Movie Blogs
Over the weekend, while you weren't wearing any pants, "news" hit the blogosphere that Logan Lerman is a primary candidate for the lead role in Sony's Spider-Man reboot. Last night, the "rumor" was "debunked" and most sites have since "updated" their "report" to reflect a claim by Sony (via Deadline) that Lerman is not cast, is not a frontrunner, is not even being considered . But HitFix, the original leak of the Lerman lead stands by the initial "story." (Also, Deadline somewhat recognizes that HitFix could still be correct.)
Whoever is right or wrong, I don't care. I just have to say that as a representative of movie blogging on his fifth year writing professionally in this medium, I'm embarrassed of all the back and forth and round and round garbage that goes with this "industry" of late. If I were merely a reader, I'd probably give up on the blogosphere altogether after reading the word "update" so often. I'd return to the old, analog experience of just learning about new movies from EW's summer (or other season) movie preview. It's a lot less of a confusing headache, and it doesn't make me sick of the whole idea of a film (or movies in general) by the time it hits theaters.
This concern I have for movie blogs' continued credibility has lately been linked primarily to superhero movies. That Captain America casting business was a joke, and I really hope the Spider-Man web isn't so tangled (pun definitely intended). However, over the weekend I also noticed some deal with fraudulent James Bond rumors, as well as the usual issue where I see some "news" reported on one blog, debunked on another, then mistakenly reported on another blog which apparently missed the debunking, which may or may not have been merely a studio brush-off anyway, and so forth.
[Of course there was also that E*Trade baby movie update, for which Dustin got a damn good -- damn good -- explanation. If only all updates could come with such honest, logical amendment that's more clarification than denial/debunking].
And the more amateur blogs that pop up and the more hack news sites that flourish, the more annoying it will be for both the film industry and, more importantly, the moviegoers. Additionally, there must be other writers who are irritated, as well. I got into this to write about movies that exist and that we can all watch, not debate the status of a development in the process of the making of a still-as-of-yet hypothetical movie.
I'm not going to tell any blogs how to run their shit any more than I'm going to recommend they quit being so competitive and having idiotic rivalries and shouting out bragging rights whenever possible. All I can do here is highlight the trends, most of them annoying and embarrassing, and hope they may serve both the film industry and the blogosphere better, as part shame, part guidance, part peacemaker, for a better cinema and a better critical arena.
Here are some similar updates of a sort we all see way too often. And let me be clear that the following bloggers are not all at fault. It's mostly the system and the culture of movie blogs as a whole that is the problem:
- Joseph Baxter at The Feed:
The still-untitled Spider-Man reboot is set for a release of July 3, 2012 -- well over two years away. If there's one thing that's certain, is that film studios are not exactly thrilled with getting scooped this soon on news about a far-from-released film such as its star. Therefore, it could mean that, despite the emphatic denials, we shouldn't necessarily dismiss the idea that Lerman could be (or already is) the new Spidey.
Where does that leave us, then? Nowhere! In fact, if I were to speculate, even if it is Lerman, we probably won't get any kind of official notice until the far future, when this this little incident will have been long forgotten. (That is, unless Sony just can't keep the info quarantined any longer.)
- Josh Tyler at Cinema Blend:
Normally I'd be quick to point out that a denial like this isn't a definitive debunk of the story. Official studio sources often blanche at confirming anything and even when they do deny it they leave themselves wiggle room to change their mind or in some cases play fast and loose with the truth to kill a story they don't want circulating. They're not doing anything heinous exactly, rumors like these are pretty early in the casting process when nothing's nailed down and so it makes sense that they don't want to commit to anything.
In this case though, Deadline's sources seem pretty adamant on the subject and odds are they're giving them the straight story.
- Scott Callura at IGN Movies:
So who to believe? It's not like the studios are known for being straightforward about what's really going on behind the scenes -- remember their denials last winter about Spider-Man 4 being in trouble? Stay tuned, true believers, for more as we hear it...
- Josh Wigler at Splash Page:
With these two conflicting reports, it's hard to know exactly what the deal is with Lerman in connection to the "Spider-Man" reboot -- except to say that at the moment, nothing is definitive in either direction.
- David Poland at The Hot Blog:
I don't really give a flying f*** who the next Spider-Man is. [...] If it was Nikki Finke making the claim and the client was repped by Endeavor, I would assume it was a negotiating tactic. But from HitFix, I am assuming that it came from someone at a high level at Marvel. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't put Sony in a harder position to negotiate a 5-picture Spidey deal with a virtual unknown.
- James White at Empire:
Though the company would naturally be expected to clamp down on any news until the official announcement, it's not like anything has happened with Spider-Man that Sony has denied in the past. Oh, hang on...
- Mike Sampson at JoBlo.com:
How will this all play out? I guess like so many times before, we just wait and see until we get an official press release stating the news. I wouldn't be surprised at all if it was Lerman (I know Drew McWeeny and he wouldn't post a scoop if it wasn't properly vetted) but then again, I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't Lerman.
- Matt Goldberg at Collider:
Maybe we'll all wake up tomorrow and learn that Lerman is Peter Parker, but only in the metaphysical sense that, on some level, we are all Peter Parker. As always, I'm going to keep my fingers crossed for metaphysical casting news.
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