Grace will grapple with Spider-Man

Church to play one of two villains

HOLLYWOOD — Topher Grace is joining the cast of Sony’s “Spider-Man 3” alongside returning thesps Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco. Thomas Haden Church also makes his Spidey debut.

Pic will be released May 4, 2007, with production beginning early next year.

Grace and Haden Church will both star as Spidey nemeses, though their exact characters are being kept under tight wraps, causing much Internet speculation as to what villains director Sam Raimi will be pulling out of the Marvel closet this time.

This will be the first “Spider-Man” pic in which the webslinger will face not one but two enemies.

In “Spider-Man 2,” Alfred Molina played the multitentacled Doc Ock. In the first film, Willem Dafoe was the boomeranging Green Goblin.

“Spider-Man 3” reunites Raimi with producer Laura Ziskin and Marvel Studio’s Avi Arad, the triumvirate responsible for the first two films.

Franchise has been Sony Pictures’ most successful property of all time. The first two films have racked up box office of more than $1.5 billion to date.

“Spider-Man 3” was written by Alvin Sargent, who also penned the second entry.

Matt Tolmach and Shannon Gaulding are overseeing for the studio.

Grace most recently starred opposite Dennis Quaid and Scarlett Johansson in Paul Weitz’s “In Good Company” and in Dylan Kidd’s “P.S.,” with Laura Linney.

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