I linked earlier today to an exclusive interview Sam Raimi did for Entertainment Weekly. In it, Raimi announced that he is "seriously interested" in directing the film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. This news has to be thrilling to New Line, but those who might not be thrilled include the millions of fans hoping for a Spider-Man 4. New Line/MGM only has the rights to The Hobbit for a limited time, and if Raimi decides to go that route, Spider-Man 4 will either have to be pushed back or a new director will have to be found. Kirsten Dunst, for one, doesn't think she'd return without Raimi, telling EW ''It's disrespectful to the whole team, I think, to do that. And audiences aren't stupid. It'd be a big flop without me, Tobey, or Sam. That would really not be the smartest move."

I think Dunst might be overestimating her popularity there, but without Tobey Maguire and Raimi, the franchise could definitely be caught in a web of trouble. Maguire has already said he's on the fence about returning for another. The Batman franchise did alright (financially if not creatively) after Michael Keaton and Tim Burton jumped ship, but the fans might smell a rat this time around. Dunst doesn't think Sony would make the movie without the original team either, saying "(Sony Chief) Amy Pascal would never do that." Sony's President of Production Matt Talbach has a different take, saying ''Listen, we're making Spider-Man 4. Our hope, dream, and intention is to do it with Sam. But I don't have a crystal ball.'' Anyone out there have one? Maybe you can help sort this out.