LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A virtual unknown has landed the coveted lead role in the upcoming resurrection of the "Spider-Man" movie franchise, ending an intense search that attracted virtually every eligible actor in the business.
Andrew Garfield, 26, will take over the Peter Parker/Spider-Man role played by Tobey Maguire in a trilogy that generated more than $2.5 billion at the worldwide box office, distributor Columbia Pictures said on Thursday.
The Sony Corp unit will release the film in 3D on July 3, 2012.
Garfield, who was born in Los Angeles and raised in Britain, has headlined only one movie, the little-seen UK crime drama "Boy A," for which he won a Bafta award in 2008.
His upcoming releases include the thriller "Never Let Me Go," in which he co-stars with Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan, and the Facebook movie "The Social Network."
Garfield also had small roles in such box office weaklings as "The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus" and "Lions for Lambs." Much of his resume boasts British stage and TV work.
"Though his name may be new to many, those who know this young actor's work understand his extraordinary talents," director Marc Webb said in Columbia's statement.
"He has a rare combination of intelligence, wit, and humanity. Mark my words, you will love Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker."
Other reported contenders for the role included Logan Lerman ("Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief"), Josh Hutcherson ("Journey to the Center of the Earth"), Jamie Bell ("Billy Elliot") and Aaron Johnson ("Kick-Ass").
Columbia said in January that it was dropping plans to make "Spider-Man 4" after spending millions of dollars in development and butting heads with franchise director Sam Raimi on creative issues. Instead, it decided to relaunch the series by taking Peter Parker back to high school. Webb, who made his feature debut last year with the romantic comedy "(500) Days of Summer," was hired later that month to replace Raimi.
Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Sandra Maler