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Venom (2018 film)

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Venom
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on
Starring
Production
company
Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • October 5, 2018 (2018-10-05) (United States)
Country United States
Language English

Venom is an upcoming American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, produced by Columbia Pictures and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing. It is intended to be the first film in Sony's Marvel Universe, adjunct to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).[N 1] The film is being directed by Ruben Fleischer, from a script by Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner and Kelly Marcel, and stars Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock / Venom, alongside Michelle Williams.

Development on a Venom film, a spin-off from the Spider-Man film franchise, first began with producer Avi Arad in 2007. After going through various iterations, an R-rated standalone film was confirmed in March 2017. The intention was to begin a new shared universe featuring the Marvel characters to which Sony possessed the film rights, though Sony also intends for the film to share the world of Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is set in the MCU because of a deal between Sony and Marvel Studios. Rosenberg and Pinkner were set to write, with Fleischer and Hardy added in May 2017. Filming began in October 2017, in Atlanta and New York City.

Venom is set to be released in the United States on October 5, 2018.

Cast

Production

Development

The Marvel Comics character Eddie Brock, a notable antagonist of Spider-Man, was introduced in the 2007 film Spider-Man 3 with Topher Grace in the role.[8] The character initially played a minor role that did not explore his alter-ego Venom,[9] but this was eventually changed to a major villain role for the latter because producer Avi Arad felt the series had relied too much on director Sam Raimi's personal favorite Spider-Man villains and not characters that modern fans were more interested in.[10] Raimi had been hesitant to explore the character due to his "lack of humanity".[8] Arad revealed plans for a spin-off film focused on Venom in July 2007.[11]

By July 2008, Sony was actively developing Venom alongside direct sequels to Spider-Man 3, hoping the character could "add longevity" to the franchise in a similar fashion to Wolverine in 20th Century Fox's X-Men films. Jacob Estes had written a script for the film, but the studio was considering taking it in a different direction from that draft and was seeking new writers. Sony was also "not yet convinced" that Grace could "carry" the film.[12] That September, Sony hired Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese to write a new script, while industry insiders suggested that Grace should return for the spin-off "because the likeable actor could be a sympathetic evildoer", in response to Venom co-creator Todd McFarlane suggesting that a Venom film could not do well with a villain as the central character.[13][14] Wernick and Reese had pitched an original story idea for the film to Sony, which Reese described as "realistic, grounded, a little more dark take on the character".[15] The pair then worked on an outline with Sony and Marvel, who "had specific rules about the villain and the backstory and stuff like that". They had completed a draft by April 2009,[16] which included a role written specifically for Stan Lee,[17] and featured a sequence where the Venom symbiote jumps "from body to body [through a city], and each person that it inhabits ends up becoming really violent and striking someone else and then it jumps to [them]."[15]

He was a journalist. He had the wrong story, he got in trouble for it ... the whole essence to us for the Marvel characters: stay close to the bible, stay close to the emotional story, and the rest is fun.
—Producer Matt Tolmach on staying true to the character's comic origins when developing Venom.[18]

Wernick and Reese had turned in a second draft by September 2009, and Reese said that Sony was "pushing forward in whatever ways they push forward".[19][20] A month later, Gary Ross, who was re-writing the script for Spider-Man 4 at the time, was hired to also re-write the Venom script, as well as direct, and produce alongside Arad. Grace was "not considered likely" to return to the role then, with the film starting "from the drawing board" and looking to make the villain "an antihero who becomes a defender of the innocent."[21] In January 2010, Sony announced that the Spider-Man franchise would be rebooted after Raimi decided to no longer pursue direct sequels to Spider-Man 3.[22] By March 2012, Sony was still interested in a Venom film, now looking to capitalize on the release of the first reboot film, The Amazing Spider-Man. The studio was in negotiations with Josh Trank to replace Ross after the latter had left the project to direct The Hunger Games.[23] That June, Arad and fellow producer Matt Tolmach discussed Venom connecting to The Amazing Spider-Man, after comparisons to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films crossing over in The Avengers. Arad called it "an Eddie Brock story" only, but Tolmach added, "Hopefully all these worlds will live together in peace someday."[18]

In June 2013, Sony revealed plans to use The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to establish their own expanded universe based on the Marvel properties the studio had the film rights to, including Venom. Arad and Tolmach would produce the films as part of a franchise brain trust, with Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Ed Solomon set to write the screenplay for Venom, which Kurtzman would direct.[24] In April 2014, Arad and Tolmach said Venom would be released after The Amazing Spider-Man 3—which was set for release on May 27, 2016—but before The Amazing Spider-Man 4.[25] However, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 under-performed and, with Sony "under tremendous pressure to perform [that has them taking] a hard look at their most important franchise", the direction of the shared universe was rethought. The Amazing Spider-Man 3 was pushed back to 2018, and the Venom film, now known as Venom Carnage, was moved up to 2017. Kurtzman was still attached to direct, and write alongside Solomon.[26] In February 2015, Sony and Marvel Studios announced a new partnership that would see Marvel produce the next Spider-Man film for Sony, and integrate the character into their MCU.[27] Sony still planned to produce the spin-off films without Marvel's involvement.[28][26] By November, they were believed to have been "scrapped", with Sony instead focusing on its new reboot with Marvel.[29]

Venom was again revived by Sony in March 2016, with Arad and Tolmach producing, and Dante Harper writing a new screenplay. The project was envisioned as a standalone film, unrelated to Sony and Marvel's new Spider-Man films, which would launch its own franchise.[30] A year later, Sony gave the film an October 5, 2018 release date, and explained that Kurtzman was not involved with the new project, and no new director had been signed, while the screenplay was now being written by Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner.[31] Venom was expected to not only begin a new franchise, but also a new shared universe independent of the MCU, and was aiming for an R-rating on a smaller budget, inspired by 20th Century Fox's success doing so with X-Men films Deadpool and Logan.[32] Sony's director shortlist for the film was believed to include Adi Shankar, known for his dark, R-rated takes "on the properties he grew up on".[33] In May, Sony announced that Tom Hardy would star as Eddie Brock / Venom in Venom, to be directed by Ruben Fleischer and officially begin "Sony's Marvel Universe". Venom is not considered a spin-off of any other film.[34] Fleischer was chosen after a long search by Sony, while the casting of Hardy, a "huge fan" of Venom, happened very quickly after he left director J. C. Chandor's Triple Frontier in April and Sony "saw an opportunity to court an in-demand talent."[3]

Pre-production

In June 2017, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed that the film was solely a Sony project and Marvel had no plans to connect it with the MCU.[1] However, producer Amy Pascal soon clarified that Sony intended to have their MU films take place in "the same world" as the new MCU films starting with Spider-Man: Homecoming, describing them as "adjunct" to that world. She said that Venom would connect to the next film in Sony's MU, Silver & Black, and that there was potential for Tom Holland's Spider-Man to appear.[2] The character Carnage was also expected to appear in Venom at that point.[35] In July, Columbia Pictures president Sanford Panitch explained that Sony was not interested in producing "conventional comic-book movies" and was looking to give each film in their MU a distinct style. Venom was considered "a spin on a horror film", inspired by the works of John Carpenter and David Cronenberg but with "more pop and fun". Fleischer said he has "always been drawn to the more antihero superheroes. There’s a dark element to [Venom] and a wit that has always appealed to me." He said the film would explore Venom's origins and the Jekyll and Hyde relationship that Brock has with the symbiote.[4]

Riz Ahmed was in talks to join the film in August,[36] with Matt Smith, Pedro Pascal, and Matthias Schoenaerts also up for the same role.[37] In September, Michelle Williams entered talks to join the film as a district attorney and Brock's love interest.[38] By October, Jenny Slate,[39] Reid Scott,[40] and Scott Haze were in negotiations to join the film,[41] with Slate up for a role as a scientist.[39] Kelly Marcel was writing the latest draft of the film's script.[42]

Filming

Principal photography began on October 23, 2017,[43] with filming set to take place in Atlanta and New York City.[44] Oliver Scholl serves as production designer for the film, after also doing so for Spider-Man: Homecoming.[45] Williams was confirmed to have joined the film in November, with Sony organizing her filming schedule to ensure her availability for concurrent, unexpected reshoots on the film All the Money in the World.[6] In December, Fleischer and Hardy said that the film was "important to the Marvel universe", and that it was primarily based on the Venom: Lethal Protector and Planet of the Symbiotes miniseries. Hardy added that, like the former comic, the film would be set in San Francisco.[46] At that point, Woody Harrelson was in talks to portray a henchman in the film,[47] and Williams was revealed to be portraying Ann Weying.[7]

Release

Venom is scheduled to be released in the United States on October 5, 2018.[34]

Marketing

For the Sony Pictures panel at Comic Con Experience 2017, Fleischer and Hardy appeared in a video from the film's set to promote it.[46]

Future

Sony plans for Venom to launch its own franchise.[30] In July 2017, Panitch indicated that future Venom films could crossover more with the Spider-Man films.[4]

Notes

  1. ^ Marvel Studios is not involved with this film, and does not plan to integrate it with the MCU,[1] but Sony does consider it to be set in "the same world" as MCU films such as Spider-Man: Homecoming, with producer Amy Pascal describing Venom as being "adjunct" to that world.[2]

References

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