Sony may spin Spidey foe 'Venom'

5:00 AM PST 07/31/2008 by Steven Zeitchik, AP

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With Heath Ledger's villainous Joker drawing attention and boxoffice dollars, Sony is moving forward with "Venom," a potential "Spider-Man" spinoff based on a bad guy.

The studio is developing the project based on the gooey nemesis who appeared in "Spider-Man 3" and is hoping that the character could serve as an antidote to the aging "Spider-Man" franchise in the way that Fox is using Wolverine to add longevity to its "X-Men" franchise.

But getting any spinoff off the ground, let alone one centered on a villain, can be tricky.

The studio had commissioned a draft of the script from Jacob Estes, a writer of the specialty film "Mean Creek," released several years ago by Paramount Classics. He's also attached to the Plan B drama "The Gifted."

But the studio is considering going in a different direction from Estes' script and is seeking writers for a new draft.

Casting also is no simple matter. Topher Grace played the character in the film, but agents have been eyeing the role for their clients, as Sony is not yet convinced that the actor can carry a tentpole picture.
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