Sargent to spin more Spidey tales

Scribe caught in Sony's web

Sony Pictures Entertainment has made a seven-figure deal for Alvin Sargent to write the third installment of “Spider-Man,” with an option to write the fourth movie as well. He has already begun work on “Spider-Man 3,” which has a tentative release date of May 2007.

The deal caps a spectacular second wind for Sargent, a two-time Oscar winner who will turn 74 in April and has shown that well-honed character development skills can make a veteran writer more valuable than the twentysomething comicbook geeks who usually get these jobs.

Sargent, who began his writing career on television shows like “Route 66,” won his Oscars for “Ordinary People” and “Julia” and was Oscar-nommed for “Paper Moon.” He is widely credited with whipping a problematic “Spider-Man 2” script into shape, but he has evolved into the voice of the franchise, in much the same way his peer Robert Towne has on the “Mission: Impossible” series.

Sargent got sole screen credit on the sequel but also did uncredited rewrite work on the first film, which was penned by David Koepp. While the sequel’s $775 million worldwide gross was less than the $821 million earned by the original, that only means “Spider-Man 2” was the second-largest grossing film in SPE history.

Sargent, whose last significant credit was the Adrian Lyne-directed “Unfaithful,” was brought on to polish the original film by his wife, Laura Ziskin, who produces the “Spider-Man” films with Marvel’s Avi Arad. Koepp took a crack at writing the first draft of the sequel, followed by “Smallville” creators and scripting team Alfred Gough and Miles Millar and then author Michael Chabon. Sargent then was brought back and wound up with sole script credit.

SPE has not yet disclosed the storyline or villain for “Spider-Man 3,” but the story has already been crafted by Sargent along with director Sam Raimi and his brother, Ivan Raimi.