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Is Tobey Maguire quitting ''Spider-Man''?

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Tobey Maguire, Spider-Man
Spider-Man: Zade Rosenthal

All that web-slinging apparently takes a toll. Tobey Maguire is suffering un-superhero-like back problems that could prevent him from donning his webbed suit and earning a reported $17 million for the upcoming ”Spider-Man” sequel. His publicist, Kelly Bush, tells EW.com that Maguire is suffering ”mild discomfort” in his back and that he and the filmmakers are evaluating whether he’s up to the intense physical demands of the role.

But Bush emphasizes that Maguire — who just finished another physically demanding film, the horse-racing drama ”Seabiscuit” — is still actively training for the sequel, and is in no imminent danger of losing the part that transformed him from critical favorite to action heartthrob. She denies reports that actor Jake Gyllenhaal is waiting in the wings to replace Maguire (a Sony Pictures spokesperson had no comment, and Gyllenhaal’s rep didn’t return a call for comment). Gyllenhaal is reportedly dating Spidey costar Kirsten Dunst.

Production for ”The Amazing Spider-Man” is set to begin April 12, and there has been no discussion of a different start date, according to Bush. Maguire, along with Dunst and director Sam Raimi, signed a sequel deal before ”Spider-Man” hit theaters last May, and he reportedly renegotiated his $17 million fee for the film last month. Since the first ”Spider-Man” was last year’s top-earning film (pulling in $800 million worldwide), it seems unlikely that Sony Pictures execs would welcome a Spidey transplant. Such changes sure didn’t help the ”Batman” franchise.

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