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SPIDER-MAN Press Conference Report

Plus: Anderson Talks X-FILES

    January 05, 2001

The release of the long-awaited Spider-Man movie may still be months away, but Sony Pictures Entertainment isn't waiting until 2002 to get the PR bandwagon rolling. The studio invited dozens of journalists, including Cinescape's own Steve Hockensmith, to visit the Spidey set Wednesday for a gala press conference with the film's director and stars.

Director Sam Raimi and actors Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe and James Franco (along with producers Ian Bryce and Laura Ziskin, FX wiz John Dykstra and Marvel Comics honcho Avi Arad) were all on hand to answer reporters' questions. Raimi kicked things off by explaining the large set where the press conference was taking place.

'This set we're on right now [in Stage 27 on the Sony lot] is supposed to be a New York rental hall where a professional wrestling group sort of on the lower rung of professional wrestling has set up for a few nights' stand. Here they hold pretty much a strong-man competition,' said the director. 'And Tobey Maguire, playing Peter Parker, newly vested with his spider powers, comes here in an outfit that he devises, since these wrestlers are quite colorful characters.

'He comes here to use his powers to win some money, because in the first act he's quite an irresponsible fellow and he hasn't quite realized that these powers are a great gift to be used for the betterment of all. So this is a scene where he'll be squaring off with Randy Savage, who is a great, ferocious professional wrestler. And I won't tell you who wins the fight.'

Raimi needn't have been so careful about spilling the beans, since the outcome of the fight is revealed in press notes handed out to those in attendance. 'Peter wins the match in record time,' says the press release. 'But the wrestling match promoter refuses to award Peter the $3,000 prize money, alleging that Peter won too quickly. Soon afterwards, because he wants revenge, he refuses to stop him. Moments later, the same burglar kills his beloved Uncle Ben.'

That turn of events stays true to Spidey lore, though not everything in the film will be 100 percent faithful to comic book continuity. For instance, the press notes mention that Peter Parker gets his powers after being bitten by 'a genetically altered spider,' not a radioactive spider as in the original comics. And Raimi revealed that the celluloid Spider-Man will have the ability to shoot webbing out of his body. (Check out Fandom's 'SPIDER-MAN Gets Ready to Swing' article for Raimi's thoughts about the organic webshooters.)

Raimi also talked about another issue near and dear to fanboy hearts: what Spidey's costume will look like. 'We've decided to get back to the classic look of the red and blue Spider-Man [costume],' he said. 'But [wardrobe designer James Achenson] has decided to update it just to bring it into the year 2002, which is when the picture opens, [and] to add some dimensionality to it, to take a slightly more subtle approach to the coloration of the outfit.'

Maguire, for one, is excited to be portraying the arachnid superhero and to be wearing the coveted red-and-blues. 'I never thought I would be wearing a skin-tight suit day in and day out for such a long period of time, but that's what's great about life,' said Maguire. '[Spider-Man] is something you play as a child. I'm 25 and still playing in the back-yard.'

Dafoe and Dunst also fielded questions about their roles in the film as Norman (a.k.a. the Green Goblin) Osborn and Mary Jane Watson, respectively.

'Before I even read the script Sam [Raimi] talked me through it and I liked the way he talked about it in such incredible psychological terms,' commented Dafoe. 'It was really very rich.'

'My goal is always to stay a moving target so no one can ever put a finger on me,' added Dunst. 'Besides, I'm playing the love of Spider-Man's life. How cool is that?'

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