— ARACHNOPHILIA Either spiders or apes will be next for James Cameron. The filmmaker has long had his eye on Spider-Man and has said he wants it to be his follow-up to Titanic. In the early ’90s, Carolco Pictures even gave him a $5 million advance to direct, but for almost five years a legal tug-of-war has been raging over the Marvel Comics superhero. At one time Twentieth Century Fox had tried to buy its Titanic mastermind the rights through Carolco’s bankruptcy. Instead, Carolco’s claim on the rights transferred to MGM/UA, which together with indie producer 21st Century say they own the film rights. But Viacom says it has right of first refusal for film and TV rights, and Columbia TriStar Home Video claims video rights. Thus, if Fox wants Spider-Man bad enough, it might have to shell out big bucks to the other parties or enter into a coproduction arrangement. Further tangling this web, Marvel is now in bankruptcy court. ”I think eventually it will work itself out,” says Sam Perlmutter, attorney for 21st Century. The next move will likely be a mediation; an official hearing is set for June. If Spider-Man doesn’t fly, Cameron will write and produce a Planet of the Apes remake for Fox — a project that has long held the interest of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
— FOREIGN AFFAIR Roman Polanski, who fled to France 20 years ago to avoid sentencing after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl, will not be returning to the U.S. anytime soon. Recent talks between the Los Angeles district attorney’s office and Polanski’s lawyer Douglas Dalton have ended, say friends of the director. ”Nothing ever materialized from those meetings,” says one. ”Nothing will happen for Roman… at least, not while this DA is in office.” Roger Gunson, the DA on the case, declined to comment. Polanski’s next film, the Johnny Depp thriller The Ninth Gate, starts shooting this May in Paris and Madrid.