Given that the first two Spider-Man movies made Sony about $1.6 billion at the worldwide box office, it probably surprises no one to learn that the studio's relentless pursuit of another huge summer run may have resulted in the third installment becoming The Most! Expensive! Movie! Ever! Made! Still, even if the $350 million number (throw in marketing and promotion and we're at half a billion) passed along in Kim Masters' Radar story on Spider-Man 3's historic, budget-busting run are, is claimed by a flack, a "complete fabrication," the real amount is still big enough to choke even its free-spending producer:
Still reeling from a flurry of bad press on its PlayStation 3 gaming console, Sony isn't eager to claim this honor. A studio spokesman angrily rejects the $350 million estimate as a "complete fabrication," insisting that production costs didn't exceed $270 million. One of the film's producers, Laura Ziskin, also disputes the higher total, albeit in a less forceful manner. "I refuse to say the [real] number because it makes me choke," she tells Radar. Spider-Man 3 was a super-expensive movie—the most expensive film we've ever made. But there's no way you can get to $300 million."
Reports of Sony's record-breaking gamble have created a stir among entertainment insiders, seeming to evoke some combination of schadenfreude and envy. "Those are crazy numbers," remarks one leading industry figure.
Unfortunately, Ziskin was prevented from disclosing the actual number and enjoying a heady moment of publicly owning the coveted title of Producer Of The Most! Expensive! Movie! Ever! Made! (upon hearing the news, Jerry Bruckheimer will undoubtedly command his Pirates 3 crew to fire $100 million out of a cannon and into the churning sea, putting the competition safely out of reach), when studio head Amy Pascal sensed a disturbance in the Moviemaking Force, and with a pantomimed pinching of her profligate minion's throat, constricted Ziskin's trachea from afar, releasing the breath-stealing clench only when she was satisfied Sony's budgetary shame would go undisclosed to the meddling reporter.