Long wait for 3D Spider-Man after Maguire quits

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

He can spin a web, any size, and catches thieves just like flies. But the arsenal of secret powers celebrated by Spider-Man’s famous theme tune is next-to-useless when it comes to negotiating the choppy waters of Hollywood studio politics.

Tobey Maguire, the actor who has played the super-hero throughout his extraordinarily-lucrative modern incarnation, has decided to hang up his spandex suit, just weeks before filming on a fourth instalment of the franchise was due to commence.

Also quitting, in the fallout from what appears to be an epic creative dispute, are Sam Raimi, the director behind all three of the recent Spider-Man films, and Kirsten Dunst, who plays Mary Jane Watson, love interest of the web-throwing crime fighter’s alter ego, Peter Parker.

Sony Pictures, the entertainment giant which owns the franchise, said on Monday that a new director and stars will eventually be hired to “re-boot” Spider-Man 4 as a story about the teenage Parker: "grappling with contemporary human problems and amazing super-human crises.”

Filming on the old film had originally been due to commence in February. The new one is now unlikely to get underway until next year, meaning that the project will miss its original release date in May 2011. Instead, Sony hopes that it will hit cinemas some time in the middle of 2012.

That will have repercussions far beyond the circles of “fan-boy” cinema-goers who have contributed to Spider-Man’s extraordinary success. The superhero is one of Hollywood’s major cash cows, and in the past eight years has generated $2.5 billion [£1.56b] at the box office alone.

Sony, which makes the films through its Columbia Pictures, is now left without a “tent-pole” to underpin its finances next summer. Cinema owners have lost perhaps the year’s biggest potential source of bums on seats. DVD and TV sales are on hold. And Marvel Comics must do without the $150m [£95m] it makes from merchandise each time a Spider-man film comes out.

The dispute that led to Raimi, Maguire and Dunst’s departure involved an appropriately large clash of egos. The famously exacting director was apparently unwilling to accept both the script, and financial conditions, being foisted upon him by be-suited Sony executives.

At least three of Hollywood’s top writers - Jamie Vanderbilt, David Lindsay-Abaire, and Gary Ross – had already attempted, in the past year, to come up with a screenplay he found acceptable. Their various efforts were in the process of being “reconciled” into a fourth version by Alvin Sargent, who wrote the previous two Spider-Man films.

Another bone of contention involved the film’s budget. Mr Raimi was reportedly adamant that he needed at least $300 million [£188m] to realise intricate sets and battle scenes. Sony would only let him have $230m. A plan to hire Anne Hathaway to play one of the female leads fell through during financial negotiations.

The departures happened at the weekend, and news of them leaked out on Monday afternoon. Raimi did not comment yesterday, except in a statement released by Sony: “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."

Maguire also released a prepared statement saying: “I am so proud of what we accomplished with the Spider-Man franchise over the last decade. 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, for its part, must hope that “re-booting” will extend the eventual lifespan of the Spider-Man franchise. The delay also gives it a chance to shoot the next film in 3D, which makes it virtually impossible to pirate and means the film will command higher ticket-prices when it does eventually hit cinemas.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

    Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

    ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
    Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

    Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

    Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
    'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
    BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

    BBC Television Centre

    A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
    Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

    My George!

    Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
    10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world