LOS ANGELES Although a "Spider-Man 4" movie is not yet on Hollywood's drawing board, series star Kirsten Dunst says a sequel without her, co-star Tobey Maguire and director Sam Raimi would be a box office flop.
Entertainment Weekly magazine on Monday cited Raimi as confirming a long-held Hollywood rumors that he might take the directing reins on a movie version of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" if Peter Jackson is not eventually hired.
Separately Dunst told Entertainment Weekly that if that happens, a "Spider-Man 4" without Raimi, her and Maguire -- who plays the comic book superhero -- would be "disrespectful to the whole team."
"Audiences aren't stupid. It'd be a big flop without me, Tobey or Sam," Dunst said in a story posted on the celebrity magazine's Web site, ew.com.
The interviews come as "Spider-Man 3," which is distributed by Columbia Pictures, began a series of premieres starting in Tokyo on Monday and continuing around the world until the film's global debut in theaters on May 4.
Entertainment Weekly asked Raimi if he might direct "The Hobbit" instead of Jackson, who won Oscars and scored huge box office hits with the trilogy of movies based on Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" fantasy novels.
"I don't know what's going to happen next for me right now," Raimi said. "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."
Shaye is co-chief executive of New Line Cinema, the studio that distributed the "Lord of the Rings" movies and owns rights to make a film based on fantasy "The Hobbit."
Late in 2006, Jackson said New Line might make "The Hobbit" without him. He and his producing partners have refused to work on a "Hobbit" movie until the parties settle a lawsuit over 2001's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."
Entertainment Weekly said if Raimi took "The Hobbit," then a possible "Spider-Man 4" could be left without a director. The speculation prompted Dunst's comments.
The actress, who portrays Spider-Man's love interest in the movies, said she did not think Columbia would pursue "Spider-Man 4" without Raimi.
"That would really not be the smartest move. But they already know that. Amy Pascal would never do that," Dunst said, referring to Sony Pictures Entertainment's chairman.
Columbia Pictures is a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is the film and television studio owned by Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp. New Line is part of Time Warner Inc.