Page last updated at 09:38 GMT, Saturday, 6 September 2008 10:38 UK

Maguire 'to return as Spider-Man'

Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 3
Tobey Maguire stars as Peter Parker in the film franchise

Spider-Man actor Tobey Maguire is close to agreeing a deal to return for two more films in the comic book franchise, according to reports.

Industry paper Hollywood Reporter said director Sam Raimi was also in talks about returning at the helm.

Sony's Columbia Pictures quashed speculation over whether Maguire would return as Peter Parker and said there was no question he would be back.

The first three Spider-Man films grossed $2.5bn (1.4bn) worldwide.

"The studio never considered any other actor. Tobey was our only choice and the only person we've discussed the role with," Sony spokesman Steve Elzer said.

In hope of containing costs, Columbia is considering shooting the films back-to-back, starting in autumn 2009, much like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which filmed simultaneously for 274 days.

Producer Laura Ziskin said she was aiming for a May 2011 release date for Spider-Man 4, nine years after the original movie's debut.

The studio declined comment on which villains might appear in the next two films or whether Kirsten Dunst would reprise her role as Mary Jane Watson.

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