Sony Slings Raimi and Maguire Off Spider-Man 4

Sony has pulled the plug on Spider-Man 4, ditching director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire, and is opting for a cheaper reboot of the franchise for 2012.

And there's already a script ready to go. Seems like Sony may have been considering this move for some time.

The James (Zodiac) Vanderbilt-penned script - about a teenage Peter Parker back at high school – is ready to shoot, and this Spidey reboot, although there is no director or star attached - is now officially in preproduction. Without Raimi and Maguire's high salaries it should be a lot cheaper to produce, and Sony needs to continue actively developing "Spider Man" films or else the property will revert back to Disney/Marvel. Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin are producing.

Studio co-chairman Amy Pascal said this was, "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. 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."

Raimi, who disagreed with the studio about the direction "Spider Man 4" should move, has expressed no hard feelings. "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," he said.

"This is a bittersweet moment for us because while it is hard to imagine Spider-Man in anyone else's hands," said Matt Tolmach, president of Columbia Pictures, who clearly did imagine it somebody else's hands going by the current evidence. "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."

So, teen Spidey? Yep sure, that was the spirit of the original comics, but you can't help thinking the word "demographics" and "Twilight" came up in a few board meetings about this decision. What's the betting whoever plays the new Peter Parker is an out-and-out hunk?