Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire won't participate in ''Spider-Man 4'' sequel

Not unlike Spider-Man, Sony Pictures has learned that with great power comes great responsibility: In a surprising move, the studio announced Jan. 11 that it was pulling the plug on Spider-Man 4 — which had been in development with director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire — opting instead for a cheaper, teenage version of the webbed superhero that won’t bow until 2012. The decision left fans who have already been waiting three years for the next installment of Peter Parker’s adventures disappointed, and others scratching their heads as to why Sony would reboot a successful franchise so soon after its last go-round. But Sony decided long ago that it needed a contingency plan in place for its $2.5 billion franchise (especially with Maguire turning 35 this year). So the studio had been developing the two projects simultaneously, with preliminary plans to release the redo one year after Spider-Man 4. Insiders say the call to focus solely on the reboot was made when Raimi and Sony couldn’t come to terms on a script, and the filmmaker declared that he would miss his summer 2011 release date. The new version will place Spider-Man smack in high school, already in possession of his Spidey abilities. So much for gym class.