'Spider-Man 4' scrapped; reboot planned

Columbia parts ways with Sam Raimi, Maguire, Dunst

Columbia has scrapped “Spider-Man 4” and is rebooting the franchise.

The studio is parting ways with director Sam Raimi and “Spider-Man” stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst and is taking the web slinger’s alter ego, Peter Parker, back to high school.

The new movie, which will have a new director and cast but still be produced by Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin and Marvel Studios, is eyeing a summer 2012 release. It will use a script by James Vanderbilt and put the focus back on a teenager grappling with normal teen problems while also dealing with his superpowers.

News of the reboot follows weeks of script problems in which the studio was at loggerheads with Raimi over which villains to use in the fourth movie. The clashes were kept mostly under the radar but last week erupted into the public when it became clear that the studio was not going to meet its start date and subsequently its May 6, 2011, release date.    

Columbia and Raimi put on a unified front Monday when making the announcement that they were parting.

“A decade ago we set out on this journey with Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire, and together we made three ‘Spider-Man’ films that set a new bar for the genre,” Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal said. “When we began, no one ever imagined that we would make history at the boxoffice, and now we have a rare opportunity to make history once again with this franchise.

“We’re very excited about the creative possibilities that come from returning to Peter’s roots, and we look forward to working once  again with Marvel Studios, Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin on this new beginning.”

Said Raimi: “Working on the ‘Spider-Man’ movies was the experience of a lifetime for me. While we were looking forward to doing a fourth one together, the studio and Marvel have a unique opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction, and I know they will do a terrific job.”

The scrapping of the movie is not without cost.

Millions have been spent on the fourth installment and on the script alone, whose writers have included Vanderbilt, David Lindsay-Abaire and Gary Ross. Alvin Sargent was in the middle of the latest draft when the plug was pulled. Preliminary special effects work also had been done.

The “Spider-Man” franchise has brought in more than $2.5 billion in boxoffice grosses for the company, with DVD sales and merchandising taking that figure to even more stratospheric heights.
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