Monday January 10 3:51 AM ET Columbia eyes Raimi for Spider-Man

By Michael Fleming

NEW YORK (Variety) - Columbia Pictures wants Sam Raimi (``For Love of the Game'') to direct its big-budget adaptation of the Marvel Comics franchise ``Spider-Man.''

The emergence of Raimi over the past two weeks comes with a web of intrigue and entanglements that has prevented Columbia from making a formal offer.

While Raimi is an avowed ``Spider-Man'' fanatic who wants to direct the film, Sony needs the film for summer 2001 to facilitate the Marvel merchandising blitz that will surely follow through the holidays. Raimi is about to begin principal photography on ``The Gift'' later this month, and he will not helm ``Spider-Man'' unless an accommodation can be reached with ``Gift'' distributor Paramount and the film's producers.

The only way that Raimi will be able to direct ''Spider-Man'' is if Sony can persuade the producers to freeze the post-production on ``Gift'' so Raimi can begin principal photography on ``Spider-Man'' by late spring or early summer, and then work on post-production of both films later in the year. While that places a hardship on ``The Gift,'' Sony has offered a seven-figure deal as compensation for the delay.


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