A year ago Sony Pictures Entertainment had such high hopes for their rebooted Spider-Man franchise. Production on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was moving forth without a hitch and early footage from the blockbuster sequel screened at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con to an enthusiastic response. Back in December the studio was so certain that it was going to be the biggest movie of this summer, if not 2014, that they announced plans to exploit their ownership of the movie rights to the Spider-Man universe by developing spinoffs that would star Spidey villains Venom and the Sinister Six.
The plan originally was for Amazing Spider-Man 2 screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Jeff Pinkner to collaborate on the Venom feature, while Cabin in the Woods director Drew Goddard would write and eventually be called upon to direct the Sinister Six movie. Then Amazing Spider-Man 2 opened to withering reviews from critics and less box office than the studio had initially projected. I haven’t seen the second movie in the rebooted series yet but the consensus is that the gluttony of villains, lack of attention paid to the main characters, and an anti-climatic ending that was to have paved the way for the spinoffs are what hurt its chances at the box office. A $706 million worldwide haul is hardly anything to sniff, but Sony was hoping that Amazing Spider-Man 2 would top out at a solid billion and change at the very least.
Now Orci has severed his ties with Kurtzman and Sony’s future Spidey-related film plans to direct Star Trek 3 while the studio and what remained of their vaunted brain trust were left to sift through the rubble of their half-hearted attempt to expand the Spider-Man universe on the big screen. The Amazing Spider-Man 3 was originally looking at a possible June 10, 2016 release date, but today Sony has announced that it will instead bow in theaters on May 4, 2018. Meanwhile, The Sinister Six, which rumors pegged at being indefinitely delayed or outright cancelled not long ago, has had its theatrical premiere set for November 11, 2016. Goddard is still on board to write and direct the latter.
“With Sinister Six in the hands of writer-director Drew Goddard, we feel extremely confident placing the film on a prime date in 2016,” said Doug Belgrad, president of Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group. Goddard’s film will be produced by Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach.
Sony will now open Uncharted, an adaptation of the best-selling video game franchise to be directed by Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses) in The Amazing Spider-Man 3‘s old June 10, 2016 slot. The starting lineup for The Sinister Six has yet to be finalized, though the second movie’s villains Green Goblin, Electro, and Rhino (played by Dane DeHaan, Jamie Foxx, and Paul Giamatti respectively) could all be featured. The second Marc Webb-directed feature included a few Easter eggs hinting at the possible inclusion of Doctor Octopus and the Vulture as well.
Andrew Garfield, who played Peter Parker and his web-slinging alter ego in 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man and its first sequel, has stated before that his contract is up after the third movie and it does not state that he has to appear to any of the spinoffs, though that could very much with a little careful negotiating.
With Goddard at the helm the all-villain Sinister Six could be a neat bit of anti-heroic counter-programming to the yearly onslaught of summer comic book blockbusters and it could also serve as a better lead-in to The Amazing Spider-Man 3 than the last movie. The two-year delay for the next Spidey-centric sequel gives Sony and their creative team some more time to right this ship and bring Marvel’s most beloved superhero – not to mention the budget – back down to Earth. There’s still a chance for the studio to get their expanded universe and give the fans and audiences a Spider-Man movie that is thrilling, emotional, and humorous, but that will only happen if they use their time wisely for once.