Have you seen Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse yet? Considering the $560M it has already earned after just three weeks in theaters, chances are you have. It’s arguably the most critically-acclaimed movie of the year and the clear frontrunner for Best Animated Feature. Next year’s sequel, Beyond the Spider-Verse, can’t get here fast enough, right? Sony Pictures certainly agrees…however, there’s a big problem, and it threatens to delay the sequel from its 2024 date.
See, the VFX artists responsible for the incredible visual style in Across the Spider-Verse aren’t happy, and they’ve spoken to Vulture about unsustainable working conditions on the film that caused huge delays. Remember, it was initially expected to open in April 2022 before being pushed to October and finally the June 2023 date it managed to hit, but not without considerable problems.
So what’s the problem? Animators complain of seven-day work weeks, eleven-hour work days, and producer Phil Lord meddling with fully-rendered, already-completed work that had been approved by directors Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin K. Thom, and Kemp Powers. Lord’s overbearing style would see him going over the directors’ heads on numerous occasions to get animators to redo their work repeatedly, causing huge delays on the film. It got so bad that up to 100 animators hired for Across the Spider-Verse quit the production before it was finished.
The general consensus is that if this management style continues, there’s no way Beyond the Spider-Verse will hit its target March 29th 2024 release date.
As with any story of this type, there are quotes on both sides of the argument. You’ve got animators claiming that Lord & Miller productions have a bad reputation; while on the other side Sony execs are downplaying the exodus of animators as completely normal.
The truth likely falls somewhere in-between, but the bigger problem is that Hollywood has a bad reputation of late for allegations of treating VFX artists like crap with poor working conditions and unreasonable expectations.
Look, most people are never going to hear about any of this. They just want to know when they can expect to see Miles Morales again. Here’s hoping that this situation can be worked out in a way that everyone is treated fairly, and Beyond the Spider-Verse can arrive right on time.