UPDATE (8/11/10) -- Sony Pictures has issued an official denial that Lerman is a contender for the role or that there is, at this point, a short list.  That denial was run at Deadline Hollywood by Michael Fleming, and the same source at Sony Corporate wrote to HitFix this evening, 30 hours after our initial attempts to contact them for comment.

Sony's track record on "Spider-Man" story denials is important to keep in mind, however.  When development on "Spider-Man 4" was put on hiatus in December of last year, IESB broke the story, and Sony denied it completely.  Even when internal memos that explained the hiatus to department heads on the film circulated among film journalists, Sony continued to say there was no interruption in progress on the film.  Immediately afterwards, Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire left the picture and the reboot was announced.

HitFix stands behind its initial source on this story, and will bring you further updates as they occur.

The initial story remains intact below.

The search for the new "Spider-Man" appears to be over. 

HitFix has exclusively learned that Logan Lerman is first choice for Sony Pictures and the clear frontrunner to replace Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker in the reboot of the blockbuster franchise.  A source close to the production tells HitFix Lerman is "almost 100% locked" but not in contract negotiations for the role yet.

Marc Webb ("500 Days of Summer") is directing the new untitled "Spider-Man" which is being written by James Vanderbilt ("Zodiac," "The Losers") and is meant to be a more teen-friendly incarnation, taking Peter Parker back to his early days of balancing girl trouble, homework, and crimefighting.  The new film is expected to begin production later this year for a July 3, 2012 release.

Maguire, co-star Kristen Dunst and director Sam Raimi were expected to continue their version of the wall-crawler's adventures until Raimi bowed out after creative differences with the studio earlier this
year.  At that time, Sony Pictures decided to re-cast the film and move in a new direction, and had already been developing a reboot script as a contingency plan.

Lerman beats out rumored contenders Anton Yelchin, Jesse Eisenberg, Patrick Fugit and Johnny Simmons.

The 18-year-old Los Angeles native is best known for his role as Percy in February's hit "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief."  His other credits include "Gamer," "My One and Only," "Bill," "3:10 to Yuma," "The Number 23" and the TV series "Jack & Bobby" where he played Bobby.  Lerman got his start in two Mel Gibson films "What Women Want" and "The Patriot" at the young age of 8.

The attention focused on the casting of this role is not surprising when one considers that, historically, one of the reasons "Gone With the Wind was a phenomenon when it was released in 1939 was the deep investment that the audience already had in the characters thanks to the popularity of the book.  Mega-producer David O. Selznick made canny use of the the casting process to hype the film, and the search to find the right Scarlett O'Hara and the right Rhett Butler was international news for a full year.

These days, it seems that the search for each new superhero has become a major sport for outlets that cover entertainment news, no doubt because modern audiences have a major investment in seeing these characters done right.  When Sony Pictures decided to reboot "Spider-Man," speculation began immediately, and Lerman was one of the early names bandied about.  At the time, those conversations were premature, but it appears that the process has brought Sony back around to the young actor, and now he is poised to wear the familiar red-and-blue costume after all.

More updates as this story develops here on HitFix.

Additional reporting by Gregory Ellwood.

Can't get enough of Motion/Captured? Don't miss a post with daily HitFix Blog Alerts. Sign up now.

Don't miss out. Add Motion/Captured to your iGoogle, My Yahoo or My MSN experience by clicking here.

Not part of the HitFix Nation yet? Take 90 seconds and sign up today.

You can e-mail me at drew@hitfix.com or follow me on Twitter, where I'm DrewAtHitFix.