Sam Raimi says he's open to directing the ''Lord of the Rings'' prequel, which could leave ''Spider-Man 4'' without a director -- and, perhaps, its Mary Jane
By Adam Markovitz
On the eve of what is expected to be the biggest Spider-Man yet, Entertainment Weekly learns that director Sam Raimi is seriously interested in directing The Hobbit, a choice that could potentially leave Spidey 4 without a director — and, says Kirsten Dunst, a leading lady.
Raimi's name has been floated in connection with The Hobbit ever since a very public dustup between Peter Jackson and New Line chairman Bob Shaye left the Lord of the Rings prequel without a director. Raimi went on the record for the first time about his potential involvement in the project during an exclusive interview with EW's Steve Daly for the magazine's Summer Movie Preview issue, on newsstands Friday: ''Peter Jackson might be the best filmmaker on the planet right now. But, um, I don't know what's going to happen next for me right now. First and foremost, those are Peter Jackson and Bob Shaye's films. If Peter didn't want to do it, and Bob wanted me to do it — and they were both okay with me picking up the reins — that would be great. I love the book. It's maybe a more kid-friendly story than the others.'' (If Raimi were to take on a complex, intense project like The Hobbit — the rights to which New Line/MGM only has for a limited amount of time — it could force Columbia to either push back its production schedule for Spider-Man 4 or find a new director for the franchise.)
Dunst says she hadn't heard any rumors about Raimi and The Hobbit until EW raised the subject in an interview. She says she can't imagine returning for Part 4 without both her director and her costar: ''It's disrespectful to the whole team, I think, to do that. And audiences aren't stupid. It'd be a big flop without me, Tobey, or Sam. That would really not be the smartest move. But they know that already. [Sony chief] Amy Pascal would never do that.'' Maguire has already expressed his ambivalence about returning for another sequel.
Sony's President of Production Matt Tolmach tells EW that the studio is cautiously optimistic about retaining the team that launched the Spidey franchise so spectacularly: ''Listen, we're making Spider-Man 4. Our hope, dream, and intention is to do it with Sam. But I don't have a crystal ball.''