An anonymous artist who worked on Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse claims that over 100 artists quit the film due to being overworked.
What were the working conditions on Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse like?
In an article published by Vulture, the artist — going by the alias Stephen — described a crunch culture atmosphere at Sony Pictures Animation. Stephen claims that many of his co-workers became burned out by the relentless reshoots and harrowing work schedule, with many of them opting to quit.
“Over 100 people left the project because they couldn’t take it anymore,” Stephen said. “But a lot stayed on just so they could make sure their work survived until the end, because if it gets changed, it’s no longer yours.”
The four total artists interviewed by Vulture attributed the frantic work pace to producer Phil Lord. Beyond his alleged perfectionist nature and demanding final approval of every sequence in the film, Lord reportedly slowed the production by editing fully rendered work, rather than cutting scenes at the conceptual level. This apparently left some artists idling for three to six months as Lord edited the movie while it was in the layout stage. The delays allegedly later forced the artists to work 11 hour days for seven days a week in order to make up the lost time.
“I know people who were on the project for over a year who left, and now they have little to show for it because everything was changed,” Stephen said. “They went through the hell of the production and then got none of their work coming out the other side.”
These comments have raised concerns about the upcoming Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse and whether the movie can be completed in time for its March 29, 2024 release date. Stephen claims that Across the Spider-Verse was not complete when he was interviewed by Vulture in early May 2023 (the month before the film released).
Stephen’s allegations mirror recent reports on similar practices at DC Studios regarding The Flash movie. Zach Mulligan, a VFX artist who worked on The Flash, addressed complaints that the CGI on the film looked rushed and incomplete via his TikTok account. Mulligan agreed that “if it looks like a VFX shot in The Flash was made in a week, it’s probably because it was.”
According to Mulligan, “VFX artists are forced to work relentless hours, overtime almost every day, including weekends. If the VFX companies aren’t meeting the unrealistic expectations that these studios are setting, the risk losing out on future contracts, and there’s only so many studios that are making superhero movies anymore.”