While the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show hogged game-industry headlines this week, a major development in the film world appears to have occurred. According to the Hollywood Reporter, preproduction of Spider-Man 4 has been halted due to "clashes" between executives at Sony Pictures and film director Sam Raimi over the script. According to show business blog Deadline Hollywood, visual effects technicians slated to work on the film have been told to seek work elsewhere, as the delay will be at least several months.
Besides the potential impact on any related Spider-Man games, the news may affect what could be the biggest game-based movie to date. That's because last July, Raimi signed on to direct a major motion picture set in Blizzard's Warcraft universe, which is also the setting for the uber-popular game World of Warcraft. The project was first announced by production company Legendary Pictures (300, The Dark Knight) in 2006, and at one point Steven Spielberg was rumored to be interested in directing it.
Since the Warcraft movie never had a hard release date, it can't technically be delayed by any change in Spider-Man 4's debut date, currently set for May 6, 2011. However, any postponement of the latest webslinger film, which the Reporter believes will now be released in late summer 2011, would almost certainly hold up work on the $100 million-plus fantasy epic.
[UPDATE] Unfortunately, Blizzard Entertainment is keeping mum on any impact a Spider-Man 4 delay might have on the Warcraft project. "We appreciate you checking in with us, but we don't have any news to share at this time regarding the Warcraft movie," a rep coolly informed GameSpot. The World of Warcraft developer and publisher is deeply involved with the big-screen project, which is being coproduced by Blizzard senior vice president of creative development Chris Metzen.