EXCLUSIVE: As Sony Pictures preps The Dark Tower (talks are starting with Nikolaj Arcel to direct) and the Paul Feig-directed Ghostbusters as new franchises, and prepares to compete to re-up for the right to keep making James Bond movies when its deal expires after the upcoming Spectre (as our sister publication Variety uncovered), the studio is also getting close to untangling the web of intrigue over the next iteration of Spider-Man. It’s down to the wire, both on the choice of the actor who’ll play Peter Parker — Asa Butterfield and Tom Holland are the frontrunners though Matt Lintz and Charlie Rowe also made strong impressions — and also on the filmmaker who’ll steer a multi-picture arc that takes the protagonist through high school.

After a long vetting process, Sony Pictures and Marvel are zeroed in on the favorites, St Vincent helmer Ted Melfi and Warm Bodies’ Jonathan Levine. Still in contention are John Francis Daley & Jonathan M. Goldstein, the director-writers of the updated version of John Hughes’ Vacation.

Ted_Melfi_-_On_Set__130806232757-275x183jonathan levineThere is a new contender who was a surprise to me. He is Jon Watts, a top commercials guy who made his feature debut with Cop Car, a Kevin Bacon-starrer that debuted at Sundance. This is all moving very quickly as the studio has narrowed the search from an initial field of a dozen directors, and the final decision comes down to producers Amy Pascal and Marvel’s Kevin Feige, with Sony Pictures chief Tom Rothman squarely in the mix. Not clear is whether the filmmaker who gets the job will write the script. Marvel and Sony are meeting with writers, but several of these finalists can write a script, too. Stay tuned.