Blade vs. Spielberg: the story of how Wesley Snipes surprisingly outsmarted a movie legend and changed the fate of Marvel for $25,000

31. 12. 2023 | Natalie Bezděková

Wesley Snipes has enjoyed a remarkable career in the film industry, showcasing his talent across various genres. Rising to fame in the 80s, he delivered notable performances in films such as King of New York, New Jack City, and Demolition Man. However, his standout role came in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as Blade, a character that propelled the film’s success, even surpassing Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan at the box office. Despite this achievement, Marvel earned only $25,000 from the project.

In the book MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios, producer Peter Frankfurt revealed that Marvel did not anticipate the film’s success. They had initially agreed to an upfront price for the 1998 Blade film but later signed profit-based deals due to its unforeseen triumph. Blade, not being a prominent name at the time, made Marvel enthusiastic about a film with fewer contractual complications.

Frankfurt mentioned that Marvel considered the project an “inconsequential” oddity. The film’s genre-defying nature, falling somewhere between horror, superhero, vampire, and kung fu genres, perplexed audiences. Blade’s release coincided with Saving Private Ryan’s second weekend, dethroning Spielberg’s movie from the top spot.

Despite Blade’s victory at the box office, Saving Private Ryan faced disappointment at the 1999 Academy Awards when Shakespeare in Love took home the Best Film prize, leaving many feeling it was unjust.

Wesley Snipes’ portrayal of Blade in the trilogy remains iconic, yet Blade: Trinity marked the franchise’s end. The film, plagued by issues like poor character development and plot holes, disappointed compared to its predecessors. Snipes sued the Blade: Trinity production team in 2005, alleging incomplete salary payments and exclusion from casting decisions. The addition of Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel led to abrupt script changes, sidelining Snipes’ character. Poor communication between Snipes and director David S. Goyer further contributed to the film’s struggles.

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Author of this article

Natalie Bezděková

I am a student of Master's degree in Political Science. I am interested in marketing, especially copywriting and social media. I also focus on political and social events at home and abroad and technological innovations. My free time is filled with sports, reading and a passion for travel.


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