If any doubt remained that Marvel has totally changed the blockbuster game, this should remove it. Sony has announced they’ll be mining the Spider-Man canon to create their own half-assed shared universe, with Venom and Sinister Six to follow the conclusion of Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man trilogy.
The press release comes from the ElectroArrives.com countdown site, and details a sort of “franchise brain trust” consisting of Marc Webb with writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Ed Solomon, and Drew Goddard. Kurtzman, Orci, Pinker, and Solomon all have their hands in the Spider-Man 2 and 3 screenplays, and will now divide and conquer on the new films. Kurtzman –who recently dropped out of Star Trek 3 for now obvious reasons– will direct Venom and co-write with Orci and Solomon. Drew Goddard will tackle the Sinister Six film script himself, and possibly direct when it comes time.
Sony is a corporation in serious cut-back mode right now, with the CEO of the entire company making very specific changes to the motion picture arm. The studio will be making fewer movies in the coming years (putting more resources into cheaper, higher margin, more-easily-produced TV), and they intend to be more controlling and ruthless with creatives. All of this to say that Sony is in a hardcore, screw-tightening conglomerate mode, and a decision like this comes as cynically as any. This is an easy way to show shareholders that they’re strip-mining their piece of the Marvel universe as deeply as they can, as well as aping the successful model now making oodles of money for Disney.
The problem, obviously, is that this bears almost no resemblance to anything Marvel is doing. This is a roadmap for spin-offs and sequels with different branding. Sure, I’m interested to see what Cabin In The Woods writer/director Drew Goddard can do with a film featuring six super villains that may or may not much involve the main hero they antagonize. That said, this is not an environment in which any particular filmmaker’s vision is like to thrive. Not to mention, throwing up Sinister Six against The Avengers 3 sounds like a recipe for disaster. I’m not even a huge fan of Marvel’s mostly homogenized, paper-thin approach to filmmaking, but it still took a lot of love and care and faith –in the characters, if nothing else– to pave the road to something that works as well as The Avengers somehow does.
This is not that. Full press release below.
SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT TO EXPAND THE SPIDER-MAN UNIVERSE ON
SCREEN WITH ALL-STAR WRITING TEAM
Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Ed Solomon, and Drew Goddard to
Marc Webb and Producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach
on Developing the Universe and Expanding the Story in
“The Amazing Spider-Man 3,” “Venom,” and “The Sinister Six”
CULVER CITY, Calif., December 12, 2013 – In a move to forge a new legacy in the story of
Peter Parker on screen, Sony Pictures Entertainment, in association with Marvel Entertainment,
is developing several new projects in the Spider-Man franchise, with Alex Kurtzman, Roberto
Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Ed Solomon, and Drew Goddard to collaborate on overseeing the developing
story over several films that will be produced by Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, it was announced
today by Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures, and Hannah Minghella, president of
Production for the studio.
The five writers, along with the two producers and Marc Webb, have formed a franchise brain
trust to expand the universe for the brand and to develop a continuous tone and thread
throughout the films. Under the deals, the studio announced that Kurtzman & Orci & Pinkner
are writing the screenplay for The Amazing Spider-Man 3, which the studio hopes Webb will
return to direct; the film will go into production next fall for release on June 10, 2016. In
addition, the team will build on the cinematic foundation laid by Webb, Arad, and Tolmach in the
first two movies. They will expand the franchise as Kurtzman & Orci & Solomon will write the
screenplay for Venom, which Kurtzman will direct; also, Goddard will write, with an eye to
direct, The Sinister Six, focusing on the villains in the franchise. Hannah Minghella and Rachel
O’Connor will oversee the development and production of these films for the studio.
In tapping these five writers, the studio and the producers are guiding the future of the franchise
with the writer/producers who have each played significant and key roles in developing such
highly successful franchises, films, and series as Star Trek, Transformers, “Alias,” “Fringe,” Men
in Black, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, World War Z, “Lost,” Cloverfield, The Cabin in the
Woods, and Marvel’s upcoming “Daredevil” series.
Commenting on the announcement, Belgrad said, “The Spider-Man film franchise is one of our
studio’s greatest assets. We are thrilled with the creative team we have assembled to delve
more deeply into the world that Marc, Avi and Matt have begun to explore in The Amazing
Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. We believe that Marc, Alex, and Drew have
uniquely exciting visions for how to expand the Spider-Man universe in each of these upcoming
rad and Tolmach added, “This collaboration was born out of the great experience we and Marc
had working with Alex, Bob, and Jeff on The Amazing Spider-Man 2. With more than fifty years’
wealth of stories in the comic books to draw upon for inspiration, the Spider-Man universe is
truly boundless; in addition, the Spider-Man comics have the greatest rogues gallery of any
series, and to have the chance to explore that on film is truly thrilling. Until now, we have
approached each film as a separate, self-contained entity, but with this move, we have the
opportunity to grow the franchise by looking to the future as we develop a continuous arc for the
story. That is what Alex, Bob, Jeff, Ed, and Drew will do in this unprecedented collaboration,
and we’re excited about the directions they are taking the character and the world.”
The most successful franchise in the history of Columbia Pictures, Spider-Man is embraced all
over the world. The four Spider-Man films to date have taken in over $3.2 billion worldwide.
Spider-Man, Venom, The Sinister Six and other Spider-Man related characters are licensed to
Sony by Marvel Entertainment.
About Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of
Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production,
acquisition and distribution; television production, acquisition and distribution; television
networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development
of new entertainment products, services and technologies. For additional information, go
About Marvel Entertainment
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of
the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library
of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes
its character franc