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Did Danny Elfman work on Spider-Man 3?


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Forgive me if this topic isn't suitable for this forum, but I remember seeing non-Williams posts on here before, and it seems like the best place to go for professional insight into the composition industry. 

 

Danny Elfman was replaced by Raimi collaborator Christopher Young for Spider-Man 3, but the Spider-Man wiki states that in late 2006, producer Grant Curtis said Elfman had begun collaborating with Young on the music for Spider-Man 3. However, he is not credited in any official capacity aside from having created the original themes used in that film, and I'm not sure the film's credits even went that far. There's certainly no official credit for Elfman composing new music for the film.

 

I'd like to know more about the nature of this "collaboration", if it even occurred. Was this Elfman giving Young pointers on instrumentation for the themes returning from the previous two films? Was this, as I've heard some say, Elfman writing the Sandman and Venom themes and leaving Young to adapt them and write the nitty-gritty of the score?

 

I consider the Sandman and Venom themes to rival the quality and hummability of Elfman's Green Goblin and Doc Oc themes from the prior two films, so if there's any doubt over whether they were or were not singularly composed by Christopher Young for the film is something I'm interested in finding out. From what I understand, the breakup between Raimi and Elfman was somewhat messy, which explains why detailed information on the subject is scarce.

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He very publicly cut ties with Sam Raimi in 2004, during production of Spider-Man 2 (primarily due to Chris Young being hired to re-write several cues that Raimi didn't like, it's a very long story). So in short, no, Elfman was not in any way involved with Spider-Man 3, and would not talk to Raimi from 2004 to almost 2011 when they rekindled their friendship to work together on Oz, The Great and Powerful

 

Elfman's anger towards being essentially replaced by Young at the end of production of Spider-Man 2 also is as far as we're aware the sole reason why no soundtrack for Spider-Man 3 was ever released, because he owns the rights to the original theme he blocked Sony from releasing an album.

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37 minutes ago, Manakin Skywalker said:

He very publicly cut ties with Sam Raimi in 2004, during production of Spider-Man 2 (primarily due to Chris Young being hired to re-write several cues that Raimi didn't like, it's a very long story). So in short, no, Elfman was not in any way involved with Spider-Man 3, and would not talk to Raimi from 2004 to almost 2011 when they rekindled their friendship to work together on Oz, The Great and Powerful

 

 

Well, if he gave Young some pointers then that technically wouldn't count as having ties to Raimi or talking to him in any way. I have also heard that Elfman gave Young his score from his original main title to make sure Young would have full knowledge of his Spider-Man theme, as well as some pointers, particularly some areas where the responsibility theme could be used. I don't know about the rumors that Elfman wrote every new villain theme, but I've long thought that he at least helped Young, even if he refused to talk to Raimi. 

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My recollection:

It was studio executives who caused the riff.

Reportedly, SONY suits critiqued EVERY cue - a huge insult to a composer of Elfman's stature and skill.

I have never heard that Elfman owns the rights to the SPIDEY theme. Is that confirmed?

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, HunterTech said:

@Manakin Skywalker That's a generally good summation, but there's a few details I'd like to correct. Namely, Elfman would've already called it quits by the time Young and John Debney came onboard to do the rescores for SM2. Raimi had been specifically pressuring Danny to ape the temp track, which he absolutely refused to do. Additionally, there's also a chance that he simply refused to budge on how a few scenes were approached, as no other temp tracks besides the Hellraiser cues for the lab sequence has been recognized for the remaining additional tracks. Elfman did fully finish his initial work, so all this would've happened once he decided to walk out.

As for SM3, as far as the compositions go, he absolutely didn't write a single unique note for it. Everything that is referenced from the previous two films are either full on re-recordings that were adjusted to the picture (ala Superman II) or so different in arrangement that it stylistically doesn't sound like him. The former is especially taken to the next level with Deborah Lurie's contributions to the theatrical cut, as just about most of her work is based on tracks that appear in the official score releases for 1 and 2. And if that wasn't enough: a good amount of scenes that originally had Young underscore got replaced with music that is tracked from the first two flicks. This is mostly better detailed in the official music section from the end credits.

That being said: there is nothing to actually indicate that Elfman barred any release of the music. Namely because just about any copyright information you can find on random SM3 cues from YT points to it all being owned by a company associated with Sony. Heck, there is actually an interview with Young stating that Sony would only release the music if there was enough demand for it, implying that it more had to do with them not trusting Young to sell units like Elfman does. Also, there is the possibility of film scores sales being at a low at the time as a reason for Sony deciding not to go with it (which might be backed up by the fact Spidey 2 is strangely difficult to find on CD these days for such a high profile release).

 

And to end off on a confusing note: one of the many promos you can find for SM3 (mainly based on Lurie's work) has a cue variant that is literally titled "7M67 DE Happy Ending (Danny Elfman)." I legitimately have no idea what to make of it, besides my theory that it was an idea that was considered for the ending sequence in SM2 (another theory being that this was something Young had considered at one point during a time when the film had a final swing scene like the previous entries). But we have no way of verifying that without the full sheets, as well as really knowing just why it's specifically labeled as that. It isn't what the movie uses though, so even if it actually was composed by the man, it didn't make it to the screen.

 


Funny you say all that: I believe Deborah Lurie has been an assistant to both Young and Elfman at different points. Which in turn makes it an easy link between the two composers, as she might've possibly been a consultant initially before being hired to do the rescores.

I've never heard any of the particular rumors mentioned here, but the tidbit about the responsibility theme fascinates me, given I always felt it was chosen to play in very specific moments in the film.

All that being said: in an FSM interview, Young only mentioned having Raimi as his guide for which Elfman themes to use and when. I doubt it's an NDA thing, as he was candid about Sony being responsible for bringing Lurie and Debney onboard and why they did so, as well as the general timeframe for when they would've all been working separately. So either it didn't happen, or it was so brief and early on that Chris himself didn't think it made much of an impact at the end of the day.

If only S3 had come out a little later. Captain Marvel's soundtrack got a full release, despite being the composer's first big-budget score. I mean, Young wasn't a big-budget composer, but he was established in the industry. It's honestly baffling to me that they didn't think the soundtrack for one of the most anticipated films of the decade wouldn't sell well just because it was a different composer. (To be fair, this was before the age of streaming, when revenue streams became easier to obtain because someone listening to a single track would send a small amount of cash directly to the studio, as opposed to relying on people buying entire $15 CDs)

 

But just to be clear: there is no verifiable information that suggests Elfman had any part in composing the major motifs of the third film: Sandman's theme, Venom's theme, and the Black Spidey theme? Good on Christopher Young, I say. Those really are amazing themes, and I'll die on the hill that says they're just as good as Elfman's Green Goblin or Doc Ock. If I'm being entirely honest, my bootleg copy of the SM3 sessions that was equalized to sound not horrible is the only Spider-Man trilogy music I listen to. None of Elfman's music from the first two films really interested me from an independent listening standpoint (although it was amazing in the films themselves).

 

On the other hand, I absolutely love Sandman's theme. I remember hearing from someone that Young used a bunch of different brass instruments playing at the same time to make that theme. The black spidey suit theme is iconic as all get out. And of course Young would've been the perfect candidate for music relating to Venom, because that character fits well with a horror movie-ish tone, and that's Young's medium.

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Sony was very nervious about Elfman not being involved in Spider-Man 3 (the issues with Spider-Man 2's music were primarily down to Raimi, and he himself admitted this in an interview around the release of Oz).

 

Elfman has/had a very strong relationship with Sony/Amy Pascal. They wanted Elfman involved in some capacity. Not wanting to ruin his relationship with Sony, Elfman was hired to write new themes for Young to adapt (Young signed on believing this would be the case and producer Grant Curtis even said in an interview that this was happening). Ultimately, Raimi rejected Elfman's ideas and Young was allowed to write new material. While Raimi loved this new material, Amy Pascal intervened and demanded more use of Elfman's themes - many of these were composed by Deborah Lurie who didn't actually work with Young at all. Much of this was discussed in a Young interview with Jon Burlingame.

 

Ironically, on the first movie, Sony wasn't convinced by Elfman's love theme at all and Raimi was the one who had Elfman's back.

 

Raimi would later apologise to Elfman and he signed on to score Spider-Man 4 weeks before it fell apart.

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I remember most of this, except for the part about Elfman having initially been hired to write new themes. I feel like that should've permanently killed the relationship if that actually was true, since it would've been a greater display of Raimi's ramped up ego to Elfman (which is what caused him to walk out in the first place). Are we sure this wasn't just a proposal Sony had that both parties rejected? Because otherwise my tired brain is having trouble comprehending Sony allowing Sam to reject new Danny ideas, yet stepping in when they felt it didn't sound enough like the first two scores.

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12 minutes ago, HunterTech said:

I remember most of this, except for the part about Elfman having initially been hired to write new themes. I feel like that should've permanently killed the relationship if that actually was true, since it would've been a greater display of Raimi's ramped up ego to Elfman (which is what caused him to walk out in the first place). Are we sure this wasn't just a proposal Sony had that both parties rejected? Because otherwise my tired brain is having trouble comprehending Sony allowing Sam to reject new Danny ideas, yet stepping in when they felt it didn't sound enough like the first two scores.

I can't imagine Elfman or his team would want that information out there if it did happen. But Young does say this was the case in this interview.

 

He starts talking about Spider-Man 2/3 at 1 hour 48 mins -ish.

 

Christopher Young Interviewed by Jon Burlingame from Film Music Foundation on Vimeo

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I'd always assumed that the lack of a score release was due to Young being unwilling to edit out Elfman's themes. So it's really just because they didn't think it would sell?

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Spider-Man 3 is so interesting because you watch the movie and you get SUCH a good idea of the production issues.

 

I still wish they went through with 4. I'm still afraid they'll try to do Raimi Spder-Man 4 now that No Way Home was such a huge hit, and they'll play off the nostalgia of the early 2000s but it won't have any of the charm of the films from 2002-2007.

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From what people have told me, an expanded release of the Raimi trilogy, particularly 2&3, would be a very tricky project to undertake, but I sincerely hope it happens someday🤞🤞

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I know Elfman famously refuses to adhere to temp scores. But I find it fascinating that his score to Tim Burton’s Big Eyes is chalk-full of Thomas Newman “American Beauty-isms” or Scent of a Woman and even some of Zimmer’s Frost/Nixon. But maybe in the years between Spider-Man 2 and Big Eyes he must have mellowed(?) Or it was just an entirely different experience with that score and he didn’t seem to care as much…

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Elfman and Burton had a (non-public) falling out during Big Eyes. The music is completely non-descript and I can't help but think if that's partly the reason why.

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3 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

I also had a non-public falling out with Tim Burton.  When he stopped making good movies.

But what about.....

 

What about....?

 

I can't think of a good film since......

?????

 

I liked ALUCE IN WONDERLAND but most fans hated it for some reason ( Johnny Depp?)

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8 hours ago, Richard Penna said:

I'd always assumed that the lack of a score release was due to Young being unwilling to edit out Elfman's themes. So it's really just because they didn't think it would sell?

That's exactly what it was.  Young was heartbroken there would be no score release.  He was very proud of all the work put in and it was by far the biggest score he had done to that point (maybe ever).  He did all the work, had it mastered, edited for release and submitted it and it was squashed because the film was poorly received so they felt there was too small a market.  Elfman's shadow loomed very large on the score.  For example, Raimi suggested venom's theme was an inversion of Spidey's theme but Young said there isn't really a Spidey theme, just a progression or at best a motif.  Young is very, very big on memorable themes...not just a phrase or a motif or a chord progression, so he created themes for his characters like Spidey, Venom, Sandman, etc.  They might not be fully used due to the score or dramatic scene requirements, but they were there for reference.  

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4 hours ago, WampaRat said:

I know Elfman famously refuses to adhere to temp scores. But I find it fascinating that his score to Tim Burton’s Big Eyes is chalk-full of Thomas Newman “American Beauty-isms” or Scent of a Woman and even some of Zimmer’s Frost/Nixon. But maybe in the years between Spider-Man 2 and Big Eyes he must have mellowed(?) Or it was just an entirely different experience with that score and he didn’t seem to care as much…

 

I don't know if there is such a thing as a composer "refuses to adhere to temp scores".  Young would be the same way I think in that they ignore the temp score.  It's something they just don't pay attention to musically, but believe me, if the director says, "I like what you did but do that thing in the temp score", they will follow along.  They understand they are part of a creative team and come with their own ideas too, but if they can't sell the idea, they have to agree to the director's vision.  Yes, yes, they might bite their tongue and curse the temp, but they aren't fools.  Goldsmith said he was very frustrated that his own music was used in temp because "how was I supposed to recreate the best thing I did in the totality of my career"?  So yes, it drives them crazy, but they will adhere to it if they have to.  It's preferable that composers are allowed the space to bring our own creative ideas.  It's the same thing as being over directed.  Like if a director tells an actor "speak this word like this and pause for a half second than look away", that is very, very frustrating for a good actor who brings their own ideas too.  

 

18 minutes ago, Richard Penna said:

So what's really stopping it coming out now as a LE? (if not just Sony being annoying)

My personal opinion is nothing would stop it from coming out if the owners felt there was a demand.  They didn't feel there was any back then and now, they probably just think it isn't relevant because there are now two different post Raimi spidey's that are probably more popular.   Maybe after Dr. Strange 2, if it's a big hit, people will take a closer look at other superhero films from Raimi and reassess Spidey 3.  It might still have its renaissance yet.  I remember the first time I saw the film (no special fx yet, tons of green screen, no score or temp only with horrible edits, bad sound, animatics all over, etc.), it was quite weak.  Especially since I thought Spidey 2 was so great.  But I always loved the score.  I wonder if I rewatched it all these years later if it would have a softer place in my heart.  Sort of like how I really hated the Star Wars prequels but seeing them now, I sort of actually appreciate them more and like what Lucas tried to do.  I don't think they're anywhere near as bad as I thought they were.

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If the owners realised that almost all of the score has leaked anyway and don't see the demand for it nowadays, then add them to the list of executives making idiotic business decisions.

 

Unless by 'demand' they mean beyond the appeal of an LE.

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48 minutes ago, Richard Penna said:

So what's really stopping it coming out now as a LE?

There are still STAR TREK, JW and JG scores that need fresh remasters.

Priorities, my boy. Priorities!

 

😎

 

 

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3 hours ago, ddddeeee said:

Elfman and Burton had a (non-public) falling out during Big Eyes. The music is completely non-descript and I can't help but think if that's partly the reason why.

Ah. I didn’t know that.

hmmmm….”falling out” seems to pop up a lot around Danny Elfman…

Guess he also wanted to emulate Bernard Hermann’s temperament ;)

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The big issue I have with Sony still thinking there wouldn't be any demand for the score is the fact that they decided to hire Bob Murawski to make a slightly different version of the movie back in 2017. Said version restoring much of Young's original work, which ended up being so thorough that they even reinstated it as an option for the 4K release of the theatrical cut. That is enough of an indication that they are aware that there is still enough of a market for the film many years later, even if it might pale compared to the first two films.

 

Really, given the way they handled the recent Ghostbusters score releases, I do wonder if the issue is more that they would much rather release them in a time when it'd be advertising/coinciding with a related thing. Of course, it doesn't work as a reason here when NWH was the perfect window for such a thing, yet we still haven't heard anything.

 

Maybe it is a legal mess behind the scenes if LLL were direct in saying to never expect it anytime soon (if ever) years ago.

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Re. the 'rights' issue: Elfman more or less said in an interview he knew they would use his themes and that they were owned by Sam Raimi, not him.

 

Quote

Raimi still owns the rights to Elfman’s Spider-Man theme. “Oh yeah, he can do whatever he wants. It’s the first time I’ve ever walked from a director in 20 years and hoefully the last time I have to turn my back on somebody but it became like intolerable. And I’ve been on some heavy duty films, so to say that, it had to be pretty bad. I’ve been in war zones you couldn’t believe in 55 films but this is the first time I said, ‘I’ve had it. It’s just not worth it. I’d rather go back to waiting tables than to do Spider-Man 2 again, to have to have the same experience.”

 

Wayback link.

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I understand the concept of copyright, but it's such a shame that a person's own music is not owned by that person. Whatever happened in the sad history of this film, it will always be "Danny Elfman's SPIDER-MAN", and not "Sam Raimi's SPIDER-MAN".

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No Way Home's success has brought the Raimi films into the ether once more, so I have hope this score will see an official release sooner than not.

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12 hours ago, ddddeeee said:

Elfman and Burton had a (non-public) falling out during Big Eyes. The music is completely non-descript and I can't help but think if that's partly the reason why.

 

I don't know about BIG EYES, but it's very well known that they had a falling out on THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, which is why Shore did ED WOOD.  Thankfully, they made up then and also on BIG EYES (I'm not familiar with any troubles there), and are on good footing again now.

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On 20/02/2022 at 6:23 AM, Thor said:

 

I don't know about BIG EYES, but it's very well known that they had a falling out on THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, which is why Shore did ED WOOD.  Thankfully, they made up then and also on BIG EYES (I'm not familiar with any troubles there), and are on good footing again now.

 

Well, I think the official reason that Elfman didn't score Miss Peregrine is that it conflicted with the second Alice, but it could certainly also be consistent with them having had a "falling out" while making Big Eyes.  Then they made up by Dumbo I guess.  I have no knowledge, just saying it's plausible.

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This is rather a lot of 'falling out' and then making up again. Is it just a case where they get very heated with 'war talk' (as Horner put it with Aliens) and need a professional break for a bit?

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3 hours ago, Richard Penna said:

This is rather a lot of 'falling out' and then making up again. Is it just a case where they get very heated with 'war talk' (as Horner put it with Aliens) and need a professional break for a bit?

Better than "falling out" AND NOT making up again, no?  There is far more of that and wasn't that much worse?  The Dark Side of an Auteur: On Alfred Hitchcock’s Treatment of Women ‹ Literary Hub (lithub.com)

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Not entirely on-topic but I've got to offer all film composers my absolute respect. I write music, and I love doing it (wrote music for some student films back when I was at university), but I don't think I could hack it as a film composer in Hollywood despite any shred of talent that I might have. Very much in the same way that I love cooking but couldn't be a chef. Too much politics and meddling. Fuck that.

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17 hours ago, mstrox said:

Ironically, the ONLY Howard Shore score Bruce owns is ED WOOD.

Possibly Buttons best film!

You never heard of Red Buttons?

You never heard of Red Buttons?

Screenshot_2022-02-17-19-44-25.png

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