Col hands Vanderbilt pen for 'Spidey 4'


James Vanderbilt has been brought on board to pen the screenplay for "Spider-Man 4" for Columbia.

Laura Ziskin is returning as producer of the billion-dollar franchise, though no deals have been made to bring back series director Sam Raimi or stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.

Plot points are being closely guarded by the studio, though the intent is to scale back the story to include only two villains instead of repeating the "Spider-Man 3" model. The third installment, which grossed $336.5 million domestically this year, saw Spidey battle a busy triumvirate of evildoers in the forms of Venom, Sandman and Goblin and was widely reckoned as overly cumbersome with one too many plot lines.

Several writers were being considered for the fourth installment, and Vanderbilt, who wrote the thoughtful if dark "Zodiac," apparently was chosen by Sony brass for his character-driven approach to the story rather than a focus on special effects.

David Koepp, who worked on the first two installments, returned to write a previous draft of "Spider-Man 4."

Vanderbilt, repped by Endeavor and Fuse, quickly has been scaling his way to the upper echelon of screenwriters. He is working on a project based on another Marvel character, Gavin Hood's "Wolverine," for 20th Century Fox.