[Updated: Sony has confirmed this news. The new Spider-Man reboot will take the story back to high school and could compete with the next Star Trek, which is due in the summer of 2012! See the full announcement below.]
Seems like the problems hanging up Spider-Man 4 are more serious than previously reported: Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood is now reporting that director Sam Raimi and his entire cast, led by Tobey Maguire, have dropped out and that Sony Pictures will reboot the series with a new director and new cast for 2012.
Here's how Finke reported it:
Mike Fleming and I have just confirmed that Sony Pictures decided today to reboot the Spider-Man franchise after franchise director Sam Raimi pulled out of Spider-Man 4 because he felt he couldn't make its summer release date and keep the film's creative integrity. This means that Raimi and the cast including star Tobey Maguire are out. There will be no Spider-Man 4.
Instead, Mike Fleming is told, the studio will focus on a reboot script by Jamie Vanderbilt with a new director and a new cast. All this took place today at meeting on the lot today. An official Sony Pictures news release about it is expected.
Fleming also hears that Raimi could now move on to his proposed World of Warcraft movie, or a film based on Dennis Lehane's The Given Day.
Here's Sony's full announcement:
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.
What do you think of this development?