Two more 'Spider-Man' films on the way

Tobey Maguire to return for fourth and fifth installments

Tobey Maguire and Sam Raimi are looking to spin more webs for Sony's Columbia Pictures.

The actor and helmer are said to be close to locking in a deal to return for the fourth and fifth installments of the studio's top-grossing "Spider-Man" franchise, with Laura Ziskin and Avi Arad producing.

In hopes of containing costs, Columbia is considering shooting the films back-to-back starting in fall 2009, much like New Line did with "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which filmed simultaneously for 274 days. Ziskin had said she would like to aim for a May 2011 release for "Spider-Man 4," nine years after the original movie's debut.

Jamie Vanderbilt ("Zodiac") is writing the screenplay.

"Spider-Man" is Sony's most successful movie franchise; the first three films have grossed $2.5 billion worldwide.

Although there has been speculation whether Maguire would return to play Peter Parker, the studio said there was no question he would be back.

"The studio never considered any other actor. Tobey was our only choice and the only person we've discussed the role with," Sony spokesman Steve Elzer said.

Both Maguire and Raimi are repped by CAA.

The studio declined comment on what villains might appear in the next two films or whether Kirsten Dunst would reprise her role as Mary Jane Watson, though it is hoped she will follow Maguire's lead and return.

Sony also has stepped up developing the "Spider-Man" spinoff "Venom," first recruiting writer Jacob Estes to draft a script and most recently bringing in scribes Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, who penned "Zombieland" for the studio.

Topher Grace played Venom in "Spider-Man 3," but it's unclear whether Sony would cast him for the "Venom" feature or bring in new talent.