For weeks we've been covering the ongoing fight between Sam Raimi and Sony over the fate of Spider-Man 4, and now it's all been decided thanks to a stunning move on Sony's part: they've scrapped the movie entirely. Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Sam Raimi told the studio today he wouldn't be able to complete the film on their terms, and rather than replacing Raimi, the studio decided to cancel the project outright.
Instead they'll be moving forward with a reboot of the franchise, based on a script by Jamie Vanderbilt, who wrote the screenplay for David Fincher's Zodiac, oddly enough. The entire original cast, including Tobey Maguire, is out, and apparently Maguire isn't that upset to see the franchise go: "He's made 3 great Spider-Man movies. He's done really well. But he's the kind of guy who, if Sam wanted to go forward, would have been there for Sam and the studio. Absolutely."
There's no official word from Sony beyond one very short tweet: "Spider-Man: Summer 2012: Peter Parker is going back to high school when the next Spider-Man hits theaters in the summer of 2012."
It's stunning to see a project this gigantic fall apart this way, especially after weeks of very public negotiations about the franchise's future and what seemed to be Sam Raimi's continued passion for the project. There's no telling how good an idea Spider-Man 4 really would have been, but I'm really not sure about a full franchise reboot. I'm sure we'll be writing about this plenty in the weeks to come, but right off the bat, the notion of rebooting a hugely successful franchise not even 10 years after the first film debuted is, uh, questionable at best. We'll bring you more news as it comes in.
UPDATE: Below is Sony's official press release, in which they confirm the summer 2012 release date. It's mostly corporate speak and smiling through gritted teeth: