This article is part of Greenlight — The Latch’s commitment to the Australian film industry. For more content in this series, click here.
Last week, Netflix dropped a slick new thriller with Chris Hemsworth called Spiderhead, which is based on the George Saunders short story Escape From Spiderhead.
It’s quickly found its way to the top of the Netflix charts, which is no surprise given the combo of Hemsworth and director Joseph Kosinski, who’s hot off the release of his last film, Top Gun: Maverick. Not only that, the film co-stars Miles Teller, and is written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the duo behind Deadpool and Zombieland.
What’s confusing, though, is the lack of promotion Netflix gave the film, despite the A-list team behind it.
Even before the film was released, Twitter user Peter Atencio, a director and producer himself, mused: “In [seven] days a streaming service is releasing a $100 million+ movie starring one of the biggest movie stars on earth and directed by a guy with a movie in theatres currently that is the biggest smash hit of the year. Yet I can’t recall seeing a single piece of advertising for it.”
In 7 days a streaming service is releasing a $100 million+ movie starring one of the biggest movie stars on earth and directed by a guy with a movie in theaters currently that is the biggest smash hit of the year. Yet I can’t recall seeing a single piece of advertising for it.
— Peter Atencio (@Atencio) June 10, 2022
a movie called Spiderhead with Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller & Jurnee Smollett directed by Joseph Kosinski & written by the Deadpool writers is out tomorrow and you’d think Netflix would be marketing it like crazy cause of who’s involved but no there’s been very little marketing
— Luke (@qLxke_) June 16, 2022
Once the film hit the streaming giant and people were able to watch the film for themselves, fans were quick to slam Netflix’s lack of promotion as “absolutely absurd”, “lazy” and “crazy”, noting the film’s “insane talent”.
“I just watched #Spiderhead and I’m again angry that Netflix did nothing to market this movie,” wrote Twitter user Caleb. “Although it won’t be for everyone, I really enjoyed it. It’s well directed, the soundtrack rules, and Chris Hemsworth absolutely BODIED this sh*t. Easily my favourite performance of his.”
It is absolutely absurd how lazy the marketing is at Netflix: "Spiderhead" is directed by Top Gun: Maverick's Joseph Kosinski, starring Miles Teller & Chris Hemsworth, written by the writers of Deadpool 1 & 2, shot by Oscar winning cinematographer Claudio Miranda. Insane talent. https://t.co/RxfqiFJtn6
— Olly (@ollyw1ll) June 10, 2022
I just watched #Spiderhead and I'm again angry that Netflix did nothing to market this movie. Although it won't be for everyone, I really enjoyed it. It's well directed, the soundtrack rules, and Chris Hemsworth absolutely BODIED this shit. Easily my favorite performance of his. pic.twitter.com/HylLeCQF9T
— Caleb Dubbed Over ❓0❓❓ (@Iceman_34) June 17, 2022
Here’s everything we know about Spiderhead, the film Netflix forgot to promote:
Who Stars in Spiderhead?
Australia’s own Chris Hemsworth leads Spiderhead in his role as Abnesti, a scientist who’s in charge of supervising the experiments that play with the moods and emotions of the test subjects.
Of choosing the role, Hemsworth said he was drawn to Spiderhead because he “really wanted to do something smaller and more contained and character-driven” after spending the past few years working on massive blockbusters like Thor: Love and Thunder and Extraction.
As for Hemsworth’s next role, cameras have just started rolling on George Miller’s Furiosa, the follow up to Mad Max Fury Road. Stay tuned for updates on that one!
Co-starring in Spiderhead are Miles Teller as Jeff and Jurnee Smollett as Lizzy, with the supporting cast as follows:
- Mark Paguio as Verlaine
- Tess Haubrich as Heather
- Ben Knight as Clyde
- Daniel Reader as Ryan
- Sam Delich as Adam
- Ron Smyck as Dave
- BeBe Bettencourt as Emma
Who Directed Spiderhead?
Joseph Kosinski directed Spiderhead. If Kosinski’s name sounds familiar, it’s possibly because you’ve seen it on the silver screen quite recently — he also directed Top Gun: Maverick, which earned rave reviews and a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival. Sounds like 2022 is a pretty great year to be Joseph Kosinski!
Who Wrote Spiderhead?
Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are credited as the screenplay writers for Spiderhead, which has been adapted for the screen from the short story Escape From Spiderhead, written by George Saunders.
Prior to Spiderhead, Reese and Wernick have had a long-established relationship as writing partners, whose biggest credits included the Zombieland films, as well as Deadpool.
Post Spiderhead, the duo are set to work on Clue, which will star Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, based on the iconic board game. No word so far on whether there will be flames, on the side of Mrs White’s head. (IYKYK).
What Is Spiderhead About?
The film’s official logline is as follows: “In the near future, convicts are offered the chance to volunteer as medical subjects to shorten their sentence. One such subject for a new drug capable of generating feelings of love begins questioning the reality of his emotions.”
Is There a Trailer for Spiderhead?
There is indeed! You can watch it right here:
What Is Spiderhead Based on?
Spiderhead is based on George Saunders’ 2010 short story Escape from Spiderhead, which was originally published in the New Yorker.
Saunders won the Man Booker Prize in 2017, for his novel Lincoln in the Bardo.
Where Was Spiderhead Filmed?
When you think “dystopian sci-fi thriller”, Queensland might not be the first place that comes to mind (unless you think there’s something dystopian about the Instagram influencers of the Gold Coast, in which case… you might be onto something, but that’s not why we’re here).
Anyway! Filming for Spiderhead took place all around the sunshine state. The shoot began in November 2020 and took approximately five weeks. However, shooting in Queensland was the film’s Plan B. Originally, production was supposed to take place in Atlanta, USA, but the pandemic, and Queensland’s low COVID case numbers, saw the entire production pick up and move continents.
At the time, Queensland Premier Annastacia Pałaszczuk credited the film with creating 360 local jobs, and boosting the Queensland economy by a chill $47 million.
In a statement, Pałaszczuk said, “As Europe and America continues to struggle with the pandemic, Queensland’s reputation as a world-class film destination, alongside global recognition as a safe environment for filmmaking, has led to unprecedented demand to produce projects here.
“Because we’ve managed the health here in Queensland, we’re now able to capitalise on that demand and focus on rebuilding our economy.”
The question of the hour, of course, is where the Spiderhead Penitentiary exists in the real world. For anyone hoping to visit it for themselves, sorry friend, but you’re outta luck.
While the penitentiary scenes were filmed around the Whitsundays, the dystopian building was likely built with CGI during the film’s post-production, meaning: the building doesn’t actually exist. To be honest, it might stick out a little if it did, right?
Aside from the Whitsundays, the film also shot on locations around the Gold Coast, specifically at Hinze Dam and Tallebudgera Valley, as well as the Gold Coast Convention Centre.
Where Can I Watch Spiderhead?
Spiderhead is streaming now on Netflix.