Tonight I got an email from one our most sure thing inside sources with big details on what’s up with the future of Spider-Man after the release of Spider-Man 3 this weekend. For months now we’ve all been swimming through rumors over whether or not Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and director Sam Raimi will be back for more with this one, and till now we’ve never been able to get a straight answer as to what’s really going on inside Sony.

Well now we have one. Our inside source, let’s call it Secret Squirrel (I loved that cartoon), has been hiding in the air ducts and janitorial closets over at Sony Pictures and has the dirt on exactly where things stand with the franchise. The surprising news here is that the future of Spider-Man seems to depend, in large part, on how many of you turn up to see Spider-Man 3 this weekend. The thing is, Raimi, Maguire, and Dunst are demanding massive paychecks to even consider re-signing. Sony, is only willing to pay them if Spidey 3 does the kind of massive business they’re expecting it to do. So step one to getting them back may simply be about all of you buying tickets this weekend.

The politics over at Sony are pretty complicated, so here’s a direct connect to Secret Squirrel with all the details:

This weekend is crucial to Sony and the cast of Spider-Man 3 on so many levels that you would be surprised. Of course you know the story of how much this film cost and how much they hope this film breaks records this weekend ( It will) but I doubt you know that the negotiations for the cast to come back also depend on how much this film makes in its run.

It’s rumored that Tobey will get about 20 million to come back for another Spidey film but that’s not what I am hearing. I’m hearing that he could get about $25 to $30 million for it, but it depends if Spidey 3 makes it to the same vicinity as the last two films in terms of box office. Now those in Sony don’t want to give Tobey or the returning cast that kind of money because they want to lock the cast down for the next three films instead of one and they want to do it cheaply, so they are looking at other actors to continue the franchise in a cheaper way and if the movie opens big and makes a boat load of cash, Tobey and the cast has a huge advantage in negotiations.

In negotiations though, there are many factors involved. One is ego, second is respect and the last is worth; and some of these factors play a crucial role in what will happen with Spidey 4. Sam Raimi was pretty much brow beaten into putting the character Venom into Spidey 3, that’s been established already. Spidey 3 was only supposed to have the character of Sandman as the main villain with the character of Harry playing in the middle, (The story in Entertainment Weekly of the Vulture being a villain in this film was spin to excuse the inclusion of Venom) so he really could not make the film he wanted to make. Sam was given almost full reign and trust when he did Spidey 2 and that film is considered a landmark in terms of super hero films and in sequels but as usual, people got possessive and greedy (Avi Arad and others) and wanted to leave their mark on the series as well, so Spidey 3 (from what I heard from more than a few people who has seen it) feels uneven, awkward and over stuff because of the interference. If Sam does come back to the franchise, he might want a little more control over it and that might not happen because there are so many people who want to dictate the direction of the series and Sam might not want the problems he faced with Spidey 3 again.

So don’t be surprised if they get a new director when they officially announce Spidey 4. Tobey on the other hand has been flip flopping about being involved in the next film for ages now and he would to it if Raimi does come back (and he gets a huge paycheck). Kirsten Dunst would as well but it’s also up to Sony if they willing to pay to have them back. Again, money is a huge issue here and they want to lock them in for three films instead of one so they might just cut them loose completely if in fact they could. The box office of Spidey 3 will be a big factor in Sony’s decision making in keeping both actors as well as Sam Raimi’s decision to stay with the series if he chooses to.

So what happens if nobody comes back for Spider-Man 4? Doesn’t matter. Sony is moving on anyway. Secret Squirrel has the scoop on who they’re looking at for replacements. The names being circulated for replacing Maguire we’ve heard before, but this is the first I’ve heard of possible Mary Jane recasting.

Peter Parker:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jake Gyllenhall are the front runners as of now but word is that a third name might be thrown in the mix as well.

Mary Jane:
Mandy Moore, Alexis Bledel and Camilla Belle are the ones being mention for the role as of now but more names could be added later as well.

As for Spidey 4, its going to be a start of a new trilogy that includes this cryptic message that my friend was given. “A marriage, a death and a birth” My friend figured it out already thanks to a relative who is a comic geek, so you might as well.

SS is one of the most reliable anonymous sources we have, but it’s still an anonymous source. Seriously folks, I know how much you all hate them. Secret has given me enough nails on info in the past that I believe this information can be trusted, but since you don’t know who’s giving it to me you have absolutely no reason to take it as fact. Remember, it’s all just rumor until there’s an official confirmation. Heck, right now it sounds like everything is still up in the air anyway. True or not, Spider-Man 4 could still go any which way.

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