Sony has pulled out of “Spider-Man 4” with Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire because the director did not want to move forward with the script in hand, the studio announced on Monday.
But “Spider-Man” will live on, since the studio has chosen to reboot the franchise for 2012 with another team — another actor and director in charge.
Raimi, who directed the first three Spidey movies, was supposed to start shooting in February 2010. The date was pushed to March because the script wasn’t ready. In all, the “Spider-Man 4” script was about to embark on its fourth rewrite, this one by Alvin Sargent, the screenwriter for Spideys 2 and 3.
Meanwhile the movie’s stars, Maguire and Dunst, cooled their heels while waiting for the go-ahead.
The film was meant to be the studio’s big tentpole release for May 2011. The decision on Monday leaves the studio with a major hole in its release slate.
What’s more, it brings to an end a collaboration that has inspired many millions of fans, while making billions of dollars for the studio.
“We have had a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration and friendship with Sam and Tobey, and they have given us their best for the better part of the last decade,” said Matt Tolmach, president of Columbia Pictures, who has served as the studio’s chief production executive since the beginning of the franchise. “This is a bittersweet moment for us because while it is hard to imagine ‘Spider-Man’ in anyone else’s hands, I know that this was a day that was inevitable.”
The studio called Tobey Maguire and Kristen Dunst to give them the bad news on Monday, which came to a head in the last few days, as the pressure to make a decision about the production intensified. Production staff had already been told to clear out their desks two weeks ago, while the script — already gone through three versions — got yet another redo by Sargent.
Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Entertainment Co-Chairman Amy Pascal had already ordered a reboot of the franchise from writer Jamie Vanderbilt, who wrote the “Zodiac” screenplay. That involves a different take on the superhero, and will be recast, with a different director leading the production.
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