The choice was just made and the deals are being finalized.
Holland was among a short list of actors being considered, among them Charlie Rowe who was the other leading contender for the role. Watts was revealed recently by Deadline as a surprise entry who joined a list of other directors. I’ve heard that two of the favored candidates, St. Vincent writer/director Ted Melfi and Warm Bodies’ Jonathan Levine had removed themselves from consideration within the past week.
Holland and Watts were handpicked by Kevin Feige with Sony Pictures chief Tom Rothman’s OK. Rothman worked with Bryan Singer on the X-Men films and liked the idea of the new filmmaking voice. As for Holland, he prevailed after a worldwide search including hundreds of actors who were taped. Holland screen-tested twice: once with Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr, and the other time with Captain America star Chris Evans. He will appear with Evans in Captain America: Civil War, which Joe and Anthony Russo are shooting in Atlanta.
Holland ended up being the unanimous choice among Feige, Rothman and producer Amy Pascal and he had boosters, including Juan Antonio Bayona who directed Holland in the Tsunami film The Impossible. Bayona was said to have lobbied Rothman hard on Holland’s behalf.
“It’s a big day here at Sony,” said Rothman on the announcement. “Kevin, Amy and their teams have done an incredible job. The Marvel process is very thorough, and that’s why their results are so outstanding. I’m confident Spider-Man will be no exception. I’ve worked with a number of up-and-coming directors who have gone on to be superstars and believe that Jon is just such an outstanding talent. For Spidey himself, we saw many terrific young actors, but Tom’s screen tests were special. All in all, we are off to a roaring start.”
“As with James Gunn, Joss Whedon, and the Russo brothers, we love finding new and exciting voices to bring these characters to life. We spent a lot of time with Jon and find his take and work inspiring, said Feige in a statement.
“Sony, Marvel, Kevin and I all knew that for Peter Parker, we had to find a vibrant, talented young actor capable of embodying one of the most well-known characters in the world, added Pascal in a statement: “With Tom, we’ve found the perfect actor to bring Spider-Man’s story into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”
The next step now will be the hiring of a screenwriter to collaborate with Watts to ready a script for production as the film is slated for release in July 2017. The story is set in high school, but is not considered to be an origin story.
This is not the first time Marvel has chosen an unexpected filmmaker, such as when they set James Gunn to direct Guardians of the Galaxy. Joe and Anthony Russo also came aboard for Captain America: The Winter Soldier to great success. In fact, they will direct the next two Avengers films. The next Spider-Man movie will be in 3D.
Watts previously directed the film Clown and more recently made a splash at Sundance with the Kevin Bacon Cop Car.
Sony Pictures will release the next installment of the $4B Spider-Man franchise on July 28, 2017.
Holland is repped by WME and Curtis Brown in the UK. Watts is repped by CAA and Greg Slewett at Bloom Hergott.