UPDATE: See the press release from Sony after the jump

This post from Deadline.com has turned out out to be true, as Sony has confirmed via their Twitter feed. Sam Raimi has ankled Spider-Man 4, and they're killing the sequel instead of hiring a new director. And even though Spider-Man 3 brought in nearly a billion dollars in total worldwide revenue, they're going to reboot the series instead of sticking with the same cast. Sounds dramatic, right?

Apparently Raimi felt he couldn't realistically meet Sony's 2011 release date, so he's left the project. Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal and Columbia Pictures president Matt Tolmach then decided to jettison everything and start from scratch. Obviously this will save them the bloated salaries of the Tobey Maguire et al., but is it going to kill interest in the series? For an entire generation, Tobey Maguire is Spider-Man.

Personally, I didn't enjoy Spider-Man 3 as much as the previous two films, and I imagine that Raimi has grown tired of the project on a personal level as well, so I welcome any sort of change in this franchise. The fourth film already felt like it was overburdened with villains (including John Malkovich as The Vulture) and story, so a reboot could be good. Or it could scuttle everything Raimi did.

Could we just wait on it for awhile? Sony and Columbia we know your coffers are insatiably hungry, but please don't rush a script into production for 2011. Take your time with this one, and give us back our teenaged, loveable, pun and web-slinging Spidey. Alas, right now the tentative plan is to "reboot" the series, from scratch, in 2012.

Peter Parker is going back to high school when the next Spider-Man hits theaters in the summer of 2012.

Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios announced today they are moving forward with a film based on a script by James Vanderbilt that focuses on a teenager grappling with both contemporary human problems and amazing super-human crises.

The new chapter in the "Spider-Man" franchise produced by Columbia, Marvel Studios and Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin, will have a new cast and filmmaking team. Spider-Man 4 was to have been released in 2011, but had not yet gone into production.

"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. When we began, no one ever imagined that we would make history at the box-office and now we have a rare opportunity to make history once again with this franchise. Peter Parker as an ordinary young adult grappling with extraordinary powers has always been the foundation that has made this character so timeless and compelling for generations of fans. 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 Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

"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," said Sam Raimi.

"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. 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," said Matt Tolmach, president of Columbia Pictures, who has served as the studio's chief production executive since the beginning of the franchise. "Now everything begins anew, and that's got us all tremendously excited about what comes next. Under the continuing supervision of Avi and Laura, we have a clear vision for the future of Spider-Man and can't wait to share this exciting new direction with audiences in 2012."

"'Spider-Man' will always be an important franchise for Sony Pictures and a fresh start like this is a responsibility that we all take very seriously," said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures. "We have always believed that story comes first and story guides the direction of these films and as we move onto the next chapter, we will stay true to that principle and will do so with the highest respect for the source material and the fans and moviegoers who deserve nothing but the best when it comes to bringing these stories and characters to life on the big screen."

The studio will have more news about Spider-Man in 2012 in the coming weeks as it prepares for production of the film.
CATEGORIES Cinematical