It's no secret Hollywood executives are out of touch with reality. They often make flawed assumptions about audiences, a trend that continues to persist to this day.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the writers of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, spoke to Empire Magazine about their first-hand account of Hollywood studios initially assuming that viewers wouldn't grasp the concept of the multiverse. However, Chris Miller disagreed with this notion, saying:
There’ve been a bunch of multiverse things since ours came out. When we started on [Into The Spider-Verse], studios were nervous that audiences wouldn’t be able to follow this idea of parallel dimensions. But audiences are smarter than people give them credit for. [Our film] opened the door for people to do things they wanted to do, but were afraid would be too out-there.
Phil Lord backed up Miller's observation, stating:
We probably spurred the horses. In those test screenings for Into The Spider-Verse, audiences weren’t confused by the Multiverse; they were electrified by it. That must have been eye-opening for any studio executives in the room...
The Spider-Man series introduced the multiverse concept with the 2018 film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which follows Miles Morales' story. The computer-animated film proved to be a massive hit for Sony, generating $384.3 million in worldwide box office revenue on a $90 million budget. Additionally, it also won the Best Animated Feature award at the 91st Academy Awards. The multiverse concept was later extensively explored in the 2021 MCU live-action film, Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Filmmakers expressing that Hollywood underestimates its audience is not a new occurrence. In 2017, Paul Verhoeven, a Dutch filmmaker renowned for the 1987 sci-fi film RoboCop, echoed the same sentiment. While discussing the remakes of two of his films, RoboCop and Total Recall, Verhoeven stated:
If you took all that stuff out, like they did with the remakes of RoboCop and Total Recall, you’d be taking out all the ambiguity, satire and irony. Straight, that’s what they want now. They think audiences are so stupid that they can’t handle another layer.
Moreover, Hollywood executives were recently proven wrong when the 2022 film, Everything Everywhere All at Once, which delved into the multiverse concept in greater detail, turned out to be a critical and commercial success. The "indie" film was a huge hit among critics and audiences alike and went on to win numerous awards across different ceremonies, eventually surpassing The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as the most-awarded film in history.
The Spider-Verse universe is expanding even further, with two sequels on the horizon and one film already in development. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse are scheduled to be released in June 2023 and March 2024, respectively. Furthermore, there is already a spin-off titled Spider-Women in progress, which will center on three generations of female Spider-related characters.
Speaking of the multiverse, the outgoing DC Extended Universe will explore this concept when The Flash hits theaters on June 16. Before this, audiences at this year's CinemaCon will have a chance to watch it before everyone else.