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Sony has found its newest web-slinger.
Tom Holland will star as the Marvel superhero, a character who has been played in recent years by Tobey Maguire (in the Sam Raimi-helmed Spider-Man trilogy) and Andrew Garfield (in a pair of Marc Webb-directed The Amazing Spider-Man films).
Jon Watts is set to direct the upcoming Spider-Man; he also directed the coming-of-age thriller Cop Car, which premiered at Sundance this year.
With Holland in the lead, the franchise is now ready to reboot for a new series of Sony films, the first of which will arrive in theaters July 28, 2017 — but not before Spider-Man first appears in Marvel Studios’ Captain America: Civil War.
The decision comes after stealth test-screening in Atlanta on May 30 that saw Holland (who appeared as one of Naomi Watts‘ sons in the acclaimed tsunami drama The Impossible) and Asa Butterfield (the child star from Hugo and Ender’s Game) test, along with Judah Lewis (a relative newbie who will be seen in the Jean-Marc Vallee fall drama Demolition), Matthew Lintz (who will be seen with Adam Sandler in this summer’s Pixels), Charlie Plummer (who had a recurring gig on Boardwalk Empire) and Charlie Rowe (a British actor who appeared on Fox’s short-lived Red Band Society).
Those tests — with Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige, former Sony head and now a Spider producer Amy Pascal and Civil War directors Joe and Anthony Russo present — were the culmination of a worldwide search in which the producers looked at over 1,500 boys from around the globe.
Sources say the decision came down to Holland and Rowe, with the producers favoring the older of the actors, and the duo were asked to retest. Holland turned 19 years old in June. Still, the studios were very meticulous in their decision-making.
Marvel and Sony made it a point to recast Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, as a teenager, since the new series will be set entirely in high school.
Given that the performance of last year’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — just north of $700 million worldwide — was off by Spider-Man standards (Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 earned $891 million worldwide), Sony is looking to reinvigorate the franchise.
Watts, meanwhile, beat out director contenders such as Jonathan Levine and the team of John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein. Sources say it was Feige who made the ultimate call regarding the new director.
“As with James Gunn, Joss Whedon and the Russo brothers, we love finding new and exciting voices to bring these characters to life,” said Feige in a statement. “We spent a lot of time with Jon and find his take and work inspiring.”
Tom Rothman, Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group chairman, said in a statement: “It’s a big day here at Sony. Kevin, Amy and their teams have done an incredible job. The Marvel process is very thorough, and that’s why their results are so outstanding. I’m confident Spider-Man will be no exception. I’ve worked with a number of up-and-coming directors who have gone on to be superstars and believe that Jon is just such an outstanding talent. For Spidey himself, we saw many terrific young actors, but Tom’s screen tests were special.”
Holland is repped by WME and Curtis Brown Group in the U.K.
Watts is handled by CAA and attorney Greg Slewett at Bloom Hergott.
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