NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios on Monday said they will delay a fourth film in their billion dollar "Spider-Man" franchise by one year and return in 2012 with a new story, new director and new cast.
The "new chapter" will tell of a high-school-age Peter Parker, the alter ego for comic book crime fighter Spider-Man who had been played by Tobey Maguire, dealing with human issues as well as super-human predicaments, Sony and Marvel said.
The reboot follows recent speculation about the fate of a "Spider-Man 4" in development, during which a film's script is worked on and its production planned.
"The studio and Marvel have a unique opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction, and I know they will do a terrific job," Sam Raimi, who directed the first three films, said in a statement.
That trio of movies, starting with 2002's "Spider-Man," have raked in roughly $2.5 billion at theaters and yielded tens of millions more in profits from product licensing, toy sales and other merchandise revenues.
In the first movies, Parker had already graduated from high school, so the fourth film will essentially be a reworking of the franchise. Maguire is now 34 years old and a father.
"We're very excited about the creative possibilities that come from returning to Peter's roots," Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said in a statement.
The film will be based on a screenplay by James Vanderbilt, and Sony said it would have more details in coming weeks.
Sony Pictures is a unit of Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony Corp.
Editing by Eric Walsh