Much like Shirley Mclaine, Spider-Man has had a number of incarnations prior to 2002. There was of course the 1960s cartoon (Sing the theme song. Come on. Admit that you know it. It’s one of the stages of recovery), “Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends”, the 70s live-action series and then another cartoon in the mid 90s. After the success of the movie, yet another cartoon was greenlit for MTV incorporating computer animation. Some of these are better than others, most notably any that don’t include Firestar, and some are now being offered on DVD as convenient tie-ins to the new movie.
Buena Vista controls the rights to most of the pre-90s series and they have used both movies as springboards for various releases. Of most interest to collectors is the release of the entire 60s animated series in a box set of DVDs. This includes all 52 episodes as well as a ball-peen hammer to pound a meat thermometer into your skull after hearing the theme song 52 times. I hate it when that happens.
They have also released some random episodes of the 90s series featuring Doctor Octopus and put them on the “Spider-Man Vs. Doc Ock.” DVD which follows the “Return of the Green Goblin” volume released at the time of the first movie and the “Daredevil vs. Spider-Man” disc released when Daredevil hit theaters. Sensing a trend? If the next movie features Spidey fighting some adorable baby cats you can bet we’ll see “Spider-Man Cuddles the Kittens”.
Never one to shy away from releasing 17 versions of the same product, Columbia Tri-Star has some primo oceanfront property in Missouri to sell us. They initially released Spider-Man on a two-disc special edition DVD in late 2002. In the weeks leading up to “Spider-Man 2″ they have re-released this edition but this time with a third disc of bonus features as well as a sneak peak at the second movie. But wait, if you act now you not only get the movie, two discs of bonus features and the cheese grater, you can also purchase Spider-Man Superbit Edition, which has a commentary track unavailable previously for only $25 more. If you begin to get the feeling you’ve been violated, you’re not far off. Something about a fool and his money…
Anyway, the two companies have picked up on the fact that Spider-Man can be used to turn a quick buck and will ride that horse until it dies of exhaustion. There’s more money in it for Buena Vista to release these four or five episode single discs than to do the whole series in box sets as collectors would like. These volumes look better on the Wal-Mart shelves so I don’t expect their philosophy to change anytime soon.
For once the content of a movie-related website is not presented in Flash animation. I’m as big a fan of Flash as anyone, but after a while you begin to realize that the full potential of the tool really hasn’t been utilized by anyone out there.
The entire top of the page is devoted to enticing you to divulging personal information about yourself. The options range from just entering your zip code to see showtimes to signing up for Spider-Man Movie Network.
One of the interesting options the site presents you with is being able to select the graphics theme of the site, be it Spidey, Dr. Octopus or Mary Jane. I selected MJ because, well, I’d rather poke around Kirsten Dunst’s site.
Go back and re-read that last sentence. Take a moment if you need to.
Moving on, “The Daily Bugle” is, surprisingly a more or less regularly updated feature. It’s a blog being written by Co-Producer Grant Curtis and answers some questions fans might have about the production of the movie. I’ve written before that features on websites are slowly becoming more like DVD extras and this is a perfect example. The only difference is that this is actually interesting whereas the majority of DVD features now are being used as cures for insomnia. Also in the “Bugle” section are a variety of press releases and the latest news on the movie. Nothing overly interesting, but at least it explains why the site’s contents have an RSS feed available.
There’s a pretty good-sized Photo Gallery available with some shots of Sam Raimi, who I just remembered played Stick in “Indian Summer”. Notable performance only for how often he gets knocked down while boxing Alan Arkin. The trailers, TV spots as well as some interviews are available in the “Videos” section and the “Ipix” tab lets you get a 360-degree view of some of the sets.
The section “The Movies” is surprisingly sparse. “The Story” contains a scant two paragraphs worth of plot summary. “Characters” and “Cast and Filmmakers” lay out your basic press kit bios on the actors and crew and the characters they play or helped create. I would think with such a high degree of talent behind and in front of the camera, more attention would have been paid here. What’s the point of hiring these people if you’re not going to give them their due?
“Downloads” contains the usual assortment of screensavers, buddy icons and wallpaper with one notable addition, IMVs. I wasn’t familiar with these but apparently they are some sort of e-tool for Yahoo! Messenger users to invite people to online chats. Very slick. Anyone remember when it was a huge deal to be able to send postcards via e-mail? I feel old.
The site is rounded out with “Fan Central” where you can see fan art and view the message boards, “Promotions” where you can buy Spider-Man fishing tackle and “Mobile and Gaming” where you can download or play online or mobile phone games. I didn’t see anything particularly innovative here so I can’t really say these sections are going to garner many repeat visitors.
As I stated, “Spider-Man 2″ is the tent pole for the summer movie season. All in all I think the only partner in this entire campaign that stepped wrongly was Columbia Tri-Star in so blatantly making people buy three copies of the original movies DVD. Everyone else may be playing off the movie’s release, but at least they are giving the public something original for their money.
The trailer hit all the right chords, the posters work well at giving a taste of not only the visuals but also the plot and the website is, in not completely original, at least pretty nicely streamlined and easy to use.
Let’s face it, though: They really could have put my bare steaming ass (have fun with that visual) in the trailer or on the web followed by five seconds of a picture of Spider-Man and it still would win its weekend. There are few such things as a slam-dunk but this I have to believe is one of them.
As moviemaking costs increase, the pressure to successfully market those movies becomes greater. In an attempt to show how marketers are trying to put the most hinders in the theater seats, Chris Thilk breaks down why some movie campaigns work and some don’t. The posters for “The Rocketeer” and “Unforgiven” remain two of his all-time favorites. For Chris’ ongoing movie journal and other various musings, visit his Random Thoughts blog.
Posted on June 30, 2004 in Features by Chris Thilk
If you liked this article then you may also like the following Film Threat articles:
- CRONENBERG’S “SPIDER” ON THE WEB
- DAVID CRONENBERG: HIS “SPIDER” HAS MORE BITE THAN BARK
- SPIDER-MAN TO LIVE ON
- NEW “SPIDER-MAN” TRAILER IS LIVE
- “SPIDER-MAN” CAST HITS A HIGH NOTE
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