Script problems push back Sam Raimi-helmed pic

A holiday hiatus has turned into an indefinite vacation for “Spider-Man 4.”

A Sony source confirmed that the studio is postponing production on the fourth installment of its superhero franchise, which was scheduled to begin lensing in February. Word began circulating among fanboys in mid-December that pre-production had ground to a halt on “Spidey 4″ due to script problems with the Sam Raimi-helmed tentpole. At the time, the studio insisted that crew members were merely taking a two-week Christmas break.

Move echoes that of another Sony tentpole that was postponed due to script problems. In November 2007, Sony put “Angels & Demons” on ice until screenplay issues could be resolved. That film was originally slotted for a Christmas 2008 bow. Instead, it opened May 15, 2009.

In the case of “Angels & Demons,” the script was rushed because of the looming WGA strike. With “Spider-Man 4,” the studio has been fielding drafts of the script for years, with James Vanderbilt taking a crack at it. Alvin Sargent is currently retooling the story.

Sony still has “Spidey 4″ skedded for May 6, 2011, though that date has become highly unlikely. The postponement would leave the first big weekend of next summer up for grabs by other studios.

“We’ll try, but I think making May is a real question,” the source said. “We will not start until we have it right. The feeling is we are not going to rush it to make the date.”

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