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Monday, 31 July, 2000, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Spider spins web for Maguire
Venice Film Festival 1999
Sir Michael Caine and Tobey Maguire (right) promoting The Cider House Rules last year
Up and coming Hollywood star Tobey Maguire is set to play comic book superhero Spider-Man in a film due out next year, according to US reports.

Industry newspaper Variety says the 25-year-old actor is in final negotiations with the Columbia studio to take the role of Peter Parker, the photographer who is turned into the wall-crawling wonder after being bitten by a radioactive spider.

The part could earn him between $3m and $4m (2m to 2.6m) with options for more lucrative deals if there are sequels.

Web of intrigue: Spider-Man
Filming is expected to begin in November, with a US release pencilled in for 12 months later.

Director Sam Raimi had wanted Maguire for the part for some time, but reportedly took some persuading, as did Columbia executives who doubted he had the figure for the role.

But they were won over when he donned the superhero's skin-tight outfit, and demonstrated the results of his recent aerobics regime.

The film follows the success of another Marvel Comics adaptation, X-Men - which already has a sequel in production.

Created in 1962 by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, Spider-Man was one of the few comic-book heroes without a sidekick.

He would be left alone to worry about his predicament in thought bubbles. He made his cartoon debut on TV in 1967.

The film is based on an earlier treatment by Titanic director James Cameron, whose plans were scuppered by a lengthy legal battle over the film.

Tobey Maguire
Executives thought Maguire did not have the body for the part
Marvel and Sony - Columbia's parent company - both dropped competing lawsuits in 1991 after an eight-year fight over the rights to Spider-Man.

The two companies teamed up to form a partnership to make the film, while rival studio MGM dropped its claim to the franchise.

The role is another step forward for Maguire, whose last major part was alongside Sir Michael Caine in The Cider House Rules.

He first came to prominence in short-lived TV comedy Great Scott! in 1992, and has since appeared in Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry, The Ice Storm, and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.

See also:

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Batman's dark past
02 Apr 99 | Entertainment
Not just a laughing matter
03 Mar 99 | Entertainment
Spider-Man escapes lawyers web
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