The opening salvo came January 27.
That day, director Paul Feig tweeted out the main cast for his all-female Ghostbusters reboot—an all-star comedy squad consisting of his Bridesmaids co-conspirators Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, as well as Saturday Night Live players Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones.
Then, on February 9, Sony Pictures Entertainment announced a new partnership with Marvel Studios that would bring Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A stand-alone Spidey film produced by Marvel honcho Kevin Feige and Sony’s Amy Pascal will hit theaters on July 28, 2017, with a new webslinger replacing Brit Andrew Garfield. There are also further plans to incorporate Spider-Man into Marvel’s upcoming Civil War storyline, with a very high likelihood that Peter Parker will make a cameo in next year’s Captain America: Civil War.
And this week, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Sony is planning a male spin-off Ghostbusters film as part of a new Ghostbusters Cinematic Universe. The film will be directed by Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and star Channing Tatum.
This would all be very thrilling, if not for the fact that The Daily Beast broke nearly all this news in mid-December in the wake of the Sony hack. And much more.
Let’s start with Feig’s all-female Ghostbusters. On December 12, we ran an in-depth piece featuring several exclusive reveals from the leaked Sony documents.
An email dated October 21, 2014, from Feig to Pascal stated the following: “I’m in NYC and had a meeting with Leslie Jones last night, who just got made a regular on SNL yesterday. She’s fabulous and could be an awesome Ghostbuster. I really think she’s going to break pretty big from SNL, so it’s nice to be in on the ground floor with her. I was supposed to sit down with Emma Stone too but she’s in rehearsals for Cabaret and is apparently having some voice issues and so isn’t allowed to talk outside of rehearsals. But I’ll sit with her again soon.”
Another email dated October 8, 2014, from Pascal to original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman touched on a bevy of actresses who’d allegedly reached out to Feig and Sony to express interest in starring in the new Ghostbusters flick. “Paul’s movie is gonna be the first one and from what I’m hearing jennifer lawrence and Emma stone and Melissa McCarthy and Amy schumer and liszzy [Lizzy] Kaplan just to name a few have already said thy wanted to be in....”
But you probably shouldn’t expect a Bill Murray cameo in that all-female Ghostbusters. Yet another email dated October 31, 2013, from David Steinberg, head of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s legal department, to Leah Weil, SPE’s general counsel, dealt with Bill Murray’s alleged reluctance to appear in Paul Feig’s planned all-women Ghostbusters adaptation, with SPE’s legal team contemplating legal action against the star.
Also, there apparently is one planned male role in Feig’s Ghostbusters, and if an email dated October 3, 2014, from Pascal to Ilene Feldman, a talent manager for Ryan Gosling, is any indication, The Gos is very interested. A subsequent email from Pascal to Hannah Minghella, the co-president of production at Columbia, about Gosling’s desire to star in Feig’s planned all-female Ghostbusters remake said, “There is one make [male] part paul is planning. How insane would that be…”
Now for Spider-Man. On December 13, The Daily Beast uncovered an email containing an eight-page blueprint to reboot the Spider-Man franchise. The email is dated November 13, 2014, and was sent by mega-producer Jeff Robinov, head of the Fosun-backed Studio 8 (which has an output deal with Sony), to Pascal. Included is “a list of filmmakers that come to mind” to direct the new Spider-Man film, and they are: Brad Bird, Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Frozen), Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), Joe Cornish (Attack the Block), Glenn Ficarra & John Requa (Crazy, Stupid, Love), James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy), Don Hall & Chris Williams (Big Hero 6), Phil Lord & Chris Miller (The LEGO Movie), Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki), Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World), Edgar Wright, and David Yates, of Harry Potter franchise fame.
Also, Robinov dove into potential plot points to tackle in the upcoming Spider-Man film:
I might suggest looking at what is widely thought to be the most beloved Spider-Man storyline of all time – “Kraven’s Last Hunt” – which ran across Amazing Spider-Man #293-294, Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132, and Web of Spider-Man #31-32. (In fact, Comic Book Resources polled their readers in 2012, and this storyline was voted as the single greatest Spider-Man storyline of all time.)In it, Kraven the Hunter tracks down Spider-Man, shoots him repeatedly, and leaves him for dead, buried underground. He then dons a Spider-Man costume and savagely starts attacking criminals.What makes this story resonate with fans is that it proves it takes more than just the costume to become “Spider-Man.” No matter what he’s wearing, or what predicament he’s facing, Peter Parker is sensitive, passionate, and connected to those he’s interacting with in a very powerful way. It’s not Peter’s powers that make him special – Kraven, and every other superhuman in the Marvel Universe, all have powers. Peter is special because of his values, because of what drives him, because of the lessons he’s learned from Uncle Ben’s death, and because of his love for Mary Jane. I’ve pasted a few pivotal pages from this book so you can see just how intense this storyline is.We also get to see how Mary Jane deals with Peter’s disappearance, and how she would react if Peter ever died in action.
Another idea Robinov had for the new Spidey film is to tackle Peter Parker as… an adult:
Another side of Spider-Man that might be interesting to explore in a reboot is seeing him as an adult. Spidey hasn’t remained a teenager over the 52 years he’s been around. He’s moved in with his girlfriend, gotten married, and in some storylines, even became a science teacher at a high school. It might feel fresh to see Peter Parker juggling with adult issues. He’s done so in the comics for decades, and kids still found this fun to read.
As for Spider-Man’s crossover into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, an email uncovered by The Daily Beast on December 14 revealed Sony’s plans for a Spidey cameo in Captain America: Civil War. An email dated October 13, 2014, from Michael De Luca, co-president of production for Columbia Pictures, to Pascal said, “I really feel, in my heart of hearts, that the new spiderman [sic] in cap 3 could just appear in his own film, be it sinister six or a kick ass spidey film of his own, after that intro in cap 3 and people would be cool with it.” That same piece also revealed that Sony is eyeing The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller to helm the upcoming Spider-Man movie.
As for that Ghostbusters male spin-off movie starring Channing Tatum, well, The Daily Beast broke that news back on December 15 of last year.
An email dated August 21, 2014, from Tatum to Pascal concerning the Ghostbusters spin-off discussed the planned tone of the movie (and please feel free to read this in your best Channing Tatum voice): “Let us show the world The DarkSide and let us fight it with all the glory and epicness of a HUGE BATMAN BEGINS MOVIE. I know we can make this a huge franchise. Fun adventure craziness. COME OONNNN!!!”
The following day, an email from Minghella, the Columbia co-president of production, to Pascal and a team of Sony execs further outlines Tatum’s plan: to star in a Ghostbusters spin-off film with pal Chris Pratt (who starred in the Tatum-produced film 10 Years), produced by the Russo brothers, who helmed Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
“So… in a curious turn of events - the Russos and Channing want to develop Ghostbusters as a vehicle for Channing and Chris Pratt to do together,” wrote Minghella. “The Russos, Channing and Reid have been brainstorming ideas and want to create a whole new mythology that would support multiple movies (the way that Nolan reinvented Batman). To be clear - the Russos want to produce (not direct) and while Channing and Chris are looking for a movie to do together they haven't mentioned this to him yet because they weren't sure how we'd react.”
Minghella adds, “They want to make it simultaneously super scary while also super funny. They love the idea that they are mortal heroes who are believers in the paranormal and the only people who can defend mankind from a paranormal threat. I know we're mid negotiations with Paul [Feig]. I'm not sure whether we'd ever develop two different versions simultaneously. Joe Russo is open to the idea that both movies could be developed in partnership so they compliment one another within the same Ghostbusters universe. Apparently the Russos are very close to Paul and Joe suggested Paul could be attached to direct both. Personally I think it's possible for the female version to co-exist with this other version so maybe they're not mutually exclusive.” To this, Pascal replies with a simple: “fuckkk.”
For The Daily Beast’s full coverage of the Sony hack, click here.