Page last updated at 08:46 GMT, Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Tobey Maguire to leave Spider-Man films

Tobey Maguire
Tobey Maguire starred in the first three Spider-Man films

US actor Tobey Maguire and director Sam Raimi will not be returning for a fourth film in the hit Spider-Man franchise, it has been announced.

Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios said a new film would be released in 2012, but with a new story, director and cast.

The new movie will focus on the superhero's alter-ego, Peter Parker, in high school.

The announcement comes amid reports production on Spider-Man 4 had stalled after script revisions.

"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."

'Creative possibilities'

Raimi, who directed the first three Spider-Man films, added: "Working on the Spider-Man movies was the experience of a lifetime for me."

"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."

Sony said it would have more news about the next Spider-Man movie in coming weeks.

"We're very excited about the creative possibilities that come from returning to Peter's roots," Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment said.

The first three Spider-Man films - released in 2002, 2004 and 2007 - were box office smashes, earning $2.5bn (£1.6bn) combined worldwide.

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