Spider-Man 4 washed down plughole

Maguire and Raimi exit project

Columbia Pictures has cancelled Spider-Man 4 and will now develop "a younger, cheaper installment of the superhero franchise", without the assistance of Tobey Maguire or director Sam Raimi.

The movie was scheduled for a 2011 release, but the studio last week put it on indefinite hold due to "script problems", Variety explains. Columbia already had a contingency plan based on a James Vanderbilt script which centres on a teenage Peter Parker as he "grapples with both contemporary human problems and amazing super-human crises".

Studio co-chairman Amy Pascal described the change of tack as "a rare opportunity to make history once again with this franchise", adding: "We're very excited about the creative possibilities that come from returning to Peter's roots."

Raimi, who didn't see eye-to-eye with Columbia over Spider-Man 4, graciously said: "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."

The fourth outing for the franchise, which as yet has no director or star attached, will hit the silver screen in summer 2012. Columbia stands to save a few bucks since it "won't be paying the high salaries or gross points to returning talent", Variety notes. ®

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