Thomas Hayden Church: Lester Cohen/WireImage
Gary Susman
March 22, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Whoever Spider-Man’s next big-screen antagonist is, he’ll probably be able to fight Peter Parker by drinking him under the table. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Spider-Man franchise director Sam Raimi announced Monday that the Spider-Man 3 villain will be played by Thomas Haden Church, who was up for an Oscar last month for playing Paul Giamatti’s wine-sipping, womanizing pal in Sideways. Production begins early next year on the film, which will mark the third teaming of director Raimi and stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. ”In addition to the ongoing relationship between Peter Parker and M.J., these films are driven by the great actors who have brought our villains to life,” Raimi said. ”Thomas Haden Church will be a fantastic and challenging new nemesis, and we all look forward to working with him.”

The filmmakers are still keeping secret the identity of Church’s bad guy. Melinda and Melinda star Chloë Sevigny recently told reporters that she had auditioned for a villain role, leading to speculation that the Spider-Man 3 antagonist would be Black Cat, a blond villainess from the comic books. Of course, there could be two villains, as there were in the three 1990s Batman sequels. Spider-Man 3 already has nailed down a release date of May 4, 2007.

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