Deadline Hollywood's Nikki Finke is reporting that Sony has officially pulled the plug on Spider-Man 4 after Sam Raimi quit the project. Intead, Sony's rebooting the wall-crawler's saga, and sepdning him back to high school.
My sources tell me that Raimi told Sony Pictures: "I can't make your date. I can't go forward creatively." And, so, once he said "That's it", Sony Pictures co-chairman Pascal and Columbia Pictures' Matt Tolmach decided they didn't want to replace him and instead chose to reboot the franchise. Insiders also tell me that Tobey Maguire heard the news in a phone call with Amy today. I'm told Tobey wasn't upset. "He's made 3 great Spider-Man movies. He's done really well. But he's the kind of guy who, if Sam wanted to go forward, would have been there for Sam and the studio. Absolutely."
And Finke quotes from a Sony press release:
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...
"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.
If the masterminds who insisted on putting Venom in Spider-Man 3 get more say this time around, the results may indeed be awful. But it's hard not to cling to a bit of optimism. For one thing, the biggest disappointment in Raimi's Spider-Man was that it got Peter Parker out of high school way too quickly. We could have had a few movies showing Parker as an awkward high-school outcast, who's secretly the city's greatest hero, instead of skipping forward so quickly. And this setup has some fantastic recent templates, from the Ultimate Spider-Man series to the Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane reinvention. So high-school Spidey could actually be great.
Meanwhile, Raimi may move over to the World Of Warcraft movie. [Thanks Andrés and Shaun!]