Sony Pictures Entertainment has made a seven-figure deal for Alvin Sargent to write the third installment of Spider-man 3, 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 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.

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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.

Brian B.