EXCLUSIVE: Sam Raimi Hopes To Start Shooting ‘Spider-Man 4′ In March 2010

Back in March, a little less than two years after “Spider-Man 3″ opened with what was then the biggest first weekend ever, Sony and Marvel Studios announced an official release date for its fourth Spidey flick: May 6, 2011. Still up in the air was the date when production would actually begin.

In an exclusive conversation with MTV News on Friday, franchise director Sam Raimi reveled that if all goes according to plan, shooting will begin early next year.

“We’re hoping that it’s the first week in March,” said Raimi.

At the moment, pre-production is in full swing, even as screenwriter Gary Ross (“great director and a very fine writer,” said Raimi) continues to work on the script.

“He’s working on a draft,” he continued. “I just gave him some notes and he’s doing a rewrite right now.”

On other fronts, “Spider-Man 4″ continues to chug along. “The production is starting to come together,” Raimi told us. “I’ve got a production designer who is starting to design the sets and the environments that the picture will take place in. We just brought aboard Scott Stokdyk as one of the two visual effects supervisors, and I worked with him on all three ’Spider-man’ pictures.”

With Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst set to reprise their roles, Raimi and his team will soon turn their attention to filling out the rest of the cast. “None of the casting has really taken place, but we’re starting to think about that now,” the director said.

Our chat with Raimi was a wide-ranging one, filled with talk about where he wants to take the Peter Parker character, which villain(s) might be showing up on the big screen, and much, much more. Check back in the coming days for more exclusive Spidey news.

Looking forward to the next installment of “Spider-Man” movies? Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!