It’s been a little over a month since Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation unveiled the highly anticipated sequel to “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and the excitement surrounding the film shows no sign of waning.
Most sequels, particularly in the realm of animation, face an uphill battle when trying to replicate the success of their predecessors. However, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” has proven to be a remarkable exception, exceeding even the loftiest of expectations.
Despite its triumph at the box office and rave reviews, the path to success for this animated masterpiece has not been without its share of obstacles. Recently, reports have emerged shedding light on a significant exodus of artists from the production.
The Exodus Unveiled
According to an exposé published by Hypebeast, a staggering 100 seasoned artists decided to depart from the “Across the Spider-Verse” production due to the untenable working conditions they faced.
These artists, whose identities remain concealed, cited the insurmountable demands imposed by the project, which they deemed unsustainable given its ambitious and costly nature.
Allegedly, changes and modifications were repeatedly requested for segments of the film that had already been greenlit during production. This upheaval led to an overload of work in multiple departments, ultimately driving scores of talented artists away from the project.
For those who chose to stay, their commitment to “Across the Spider-Verse” meant working seven days a week. The duration of their involvement in the project stretched to an exhausting year and a staggering 11 hours.
Sources suggest that Phil Lord, the original director of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and a key contributor to the sequel’s writing and production, played a pivotal role in the tumultuous creative process.
Lord, it is alleged, sought to obtain final approval for every aspect of the film, even sometimes contradicting the directives of the appointed directors, Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson.
One anonymous animator revealed, “They are obviously in charge of directing, but if Phil [Lord] has a note that contradicts their note, his note takes precedence. They have to do what Phil says. So there were constant changes and cuts. With Phil Lord, nothing is ever final or approved. Nothing was really set in stone.”
Setbacks and Stoppages
The animation editing process is known for its iterative nature, but the insiders claim that Lord’s early struggles with 3D animation and his penchant for making highly specific adjustments led to numerous rounds of alterations.
These inefficiencies caused a substantial three-month halt in production at Sony Pictures Imageworks’ Vancouver facilities for “Across the Spider-Verse.” Artists found themselves idle, waiting for the impending avalanche of work.
“The worst thing you can do to an artist is hire them and then tell them to do nothing,” one anonymous artist lamented. “These people were like, ‘How do you expect us to make this huge movie in less and less time?’ Each week that went by idle meant that later on, it was going to be more insane.”
While Amy Pascal, the Academy Award-winning producer, dismissed some of the allegations, she did acknowledge that significant changes had occurred during the making of “Across the Spider-Verse,” leading to departures from the project. Sony Pictures Imageworks CEO Michelle Grady defended Phil Lord against blame for the delays, emphasizing that animation allows for adjustments until the story is perfected.
“One of the things about animation that makes it such a wonderful thing to work on is that you get to keep going until the story is right,” Pascal stated. “If the story isn’t right, you have to keep going until it is. To the workers who felt demoralized by having to revise final renders five times in a row, I guess, welcome to making a movie.”
What Lies Beyond the Spider-Verse
The conclusion of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” left fans eagerly anticipating its sequel. The expected release date for “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse” has been set for March 29, 2024, according to production.
However, in light of the production issues that have surfaced, many have voiced concerns about the pressure placed on the artists and have called for a potential delay to ensure the film’s quality.
One of the artists who spoke with Vulture believes that “Beyond the Spider-Verse” will almost certainly miss its intended release date, revealing that producers did not concurrently work on both projects and barely finished it in time for the premiere of “Across the Spider-Verse.”
**Written in collaboration with Dr. Luciano Magaldi:
Dr. Luciano Magaldi is a security engineer with deep expertise in cybersecurity, new technologies and geopolitics. He is an honorary member of the White House Historical Association and an official alumnus at Stanford Alumni Association-Club of Los Angeles and at Cambridge at Harvard Alumni for Education Association. He is an opinion contributor for The New York Weekly, The London Globalist, the Los Angeles Journal, The International Policy Digest and Modern Diplomacy. He’s worked for Google IE, Apple EU HQ, Amazon SL, and Microsoft PT.