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Posted at 7:00 PM ET, 01/11/2010

'SPIDER-MAN 4': Tobey Maguire cut loose from the webcrawler franchise

By Michael Cavna

Eleven days in and it's already been an eventful year for Marvel properties. One Marvel mastermind (Stan Lee) just got Disney to invest 10% in his company; the heirs of another Marvel great (the late Jack Kirby) are in a heated legal squabble over copyrights; Stuart Townsend has bailed on the film "Thor" while citing creative differences with the director; and now (ka-pow) ...

Tobey Maguire and filmmaker Sam Raimi won't be involved in the delayed film "SPIDER-MAN 4."

Raimi reportedly pulled out of "Spider-Man 4" because, according to Deadline Hollywood, he didn't think he could "make its summer release date [in 2011] and keep the film's creative integrity." As a result, Maguire will no longer wear the spider suit, say the suits at Sony.

"I am so proud of what we accomplished with the 'Spider-Man' franchise over the last decade," Maguire said in a statement. "Beyond the films themselves, I have formed some deep and lasting friendships. I am excited to see the next chapter unfold in this incredible story."

Sony Pictures will reportedly reboot the franchise -- for a summer 2012 target release --with a new director, a new cast and a new story: Peter Parker is going back to high school, says Variety. (BTW, notes Variety: "Columbia needs to continue actively developing 'Spider Man' films or else the property will revert back to Disney/Marvel.")

The three "Spider-Man" films are all among the 30 highest-grossing movies worldwide and collectively have grossed about $2.5 billion, according to

Meanwhile, the New York staging of the Bono-scored "Spider-Man" -- already the most expensive Broadway musical ever as costs exceed $50 million -- couldn't make its scheduled March opening. The Julie Taymor production is now set to open in November (thanks in part to a new infusion of Disney dollars), with newcomer Reeve Carney as Spider-Man and Evan Rachel Wood as Mary Jane.

Stan Lee (AP)Enlarge Comic

This news comes a day after Townsend (probably still best known as simply Charlize Theron's lesser half) dropped out of "Thor," according to Associated Press. The Irish actor, who was to play Thor's ally Fandral, reportedly dropped out because of creative differences with director Kenneth Branagh. The movie -- which co-stars Chris Hemsworth (in the title role), Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Adriana Barraza and Rene Russo, as well as Joshua Dallas (Townsend's reported replacement) -- is now scheduled to hit theaters May 6, 2011, after its release was recently moved up two weeks.

And last Friday came the latest wrinkle in the ongoing Kirby-vs.-Marvel squabble, as Marvel Entertainment filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court to try to invalidate the copyright termination claims made by the heirs to Kirby, the legendary artist so instrumental to characters -- Iron Man, Hulk, Spider-Man, etc. -- that have also generated so much moolah at the box office. (Disney acquired Marvel last year in a $4-billion mega-deal.)

At least Stan Lee can smile these days. The man who helped create Spider-Man and Marvel cut a deal last week with Disney, which has acquired a 10 percent stake in his company POW! Entertainment.

Last year, Lee told Comic Riffs that Disney had "a first-look deal" with POW!

So what actor should be cast as the new, school-age Peter Parker? If you've got just the candidate in mind, fire away.


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By Michael Cavna  | January 11, 2010; 7:00 PM ET
Categories:  The Holly Word  | Tags:  Marvel Entertainment, Peter Parker, Sam Raimi, Sony Pictures, Spider-Man, Tobey Maguire  
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