Once upon a time, Spider-Man director Sam Raimi was set to direct the adaptation of Blizzard’s uber-successful MMORPG, World of Warcraft. It was a time for celebration amongst movie fans and gamers alike as Raimi seemed like a bold, exciting choice for the project which promised to rival the scope of films such as The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. And then, with the wave of a wizard’s staff, Raimi was off the project. While World Of Warcraft is now getting back on track with Duncan Jones (Source Code) in the director’s chair, we never quite knew what was the cause behind Raimi’s departure.
Until today that is. Hit the jump for the full story, including further details on why he also left Spider-Man 4, and what he thinks of Marvel’s wonder boy, Joss Whedon.
Speaking to Vulture about Raimi’s latest film, Oz The Great and Powerful, the director had this to say about his experience on WoW:
You’re no longer attached to the World of Warcraft movie, and now Duncan Jones is making it.
SAM RAIMI: I loved his movie Moon, and I think he’s a strikingly talented director. I bet that if anyone can do a great job with it, it’s him.
What was the biggest obstacle on that project?
RAIMI: Robert Rodat was working on the script, and it was taking a long time. I think they were getting a little antsy at Legendary, the production company. Actually, what happened was even more complicated, so let me go back a little bit. First, they asked me if I wanted to make it, and I said, “Yes, I love World of Warcraft, and I think it would make a great picture.” So I read a screenplay they had that was written by the guys at [Warcraft developer] Blizzard, and it didn’t quite work for me. I told them I wanted to make my own original story with Robert, so we pitched it to Legendary and they accepted it, and then we pitched it to Blizzard, and they had reservations, but they accepted it. Then Robert wrote the screenplay, and only once he was done did we realize that Blizzard had veto power, and we didn’t know that. And they had never quite approved the original story we pitched them. Those reservations were their way of saying, “We don’t approve this story, and we want to go a different way,” so after we had spent nine months working on this thing, we basically had to start over. And Robert did start over, but it was taking too long for the people at Blizzard, and their patience ran out. Honestly, I think it was mismanagement on their behalf, not to explain to us that the first story was vetoed long ago. Why did they let us keep working on it? Were they afraid to tell me??
“I hope enough time has passed that you feel comfortable talking about Spider-Man 4, which was in preproduction and began casting but fell apart before shooting began. What happened there?
RAIMI: It really was the most amicable and undramatic of breakups: It was simply that we had a deadline and I couldn’t get the story to work on a level that I wanted it to work. I was very unhappy with Spider-Man 3, and I wanted to make Spider-Man 4 to end on a very high note, the best Spider-Man of them all. But I couldn’t get the script together in time, due to my own failings, and I said to Sony, “I don’t want to make a movie that is less than great, so I think we shouldn’t make this picture. Go ahead with your reboot, which you’ve been planning anyway.” And [Sony co-chairman] Amy Pascal said, “Thank you. Thank you for not wasting the studio’s money, and I appreciate your candor.” So we left on the best of terms, both of us trying to do the best thing for fans, the good name of Spider-Man, and Sony Studios.”
RAIMI: “Joss Whedon is an extraordinarily talented filmmaker … and in fact, in 1994, I was making a western called The Quick and the Dead and having a script problem, and I came to the studio and said, “Can you find me a writer? I’ve shot this movie, and the end isn’t quite working.” And ultimately, the movie didn’t quite work. But they suggested Joss Whedon, who was doing Buffy, so I met Joss and he saw the movie, and he helped me solve this ending in one afternoon. I thought, Damn, you’re a good writer! I wish I could have had you rewrite the whole movie and save this picture! But I’ll never forget how good he was, and how precise, so when I saw The Avengers, I was not surprised that his name was on it. It’s a very hard job to take all those heroes and all those stories and know exactly what bits the audience needs and what they don’t need.”