Sony to Expand Spider-Man Franchise With "Venom" and "Sinister Six"

Following through on its ambition to "create a bigger universe around Spider-Man," Sony Pictures announced late last night it's expanding the franchise with the spinoffs "Venom" and "The Sinister Six."

The news arrived on the newly uncovered "Amazing Spider-Man 2" promotional website ElectroArrives.com, where the studio trumpeted the hiring of screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Ed Solomon and Drew Goddard, who will form a "franchise brain trust" with director Marc Webb and producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach "to expand the universe for the brand and to develop a continuous tone and thread throughout the films."

As part of the plan, Kurtzman, Orci and Pinkner, who worked together on "Fringe," will write "The Amazing Spider-Man 3," which will go into production next fall for release on June 10, 2016; Sony is banking on Webb to return to direct. In addition, frequent collaborators Kurtzman and Orci ("Star Trek Into Darkness," "Transformers") will pen "Venom," with Kurtzman set to direct. ("Chronicle" director Josh Trank, who's tackling Fox's "Fantastic Four" reboot, was in talks for "Venom" early last year.)Goddard ("Cloverfield," "World War Z"), who made his directorial debut last year with "The Cabin in the Woods," is set to write, and possibly helm, the villain-focused "Sinister Six." The role of Solomon ("Men in Black," "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures") wasn't specified.

"The Spider-Man film franchise is one of our studio's greatest assets," Columbia Pictures President Doug Belgrad said in a statement. "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 the uniquely exciting visions for how to expand the Spider-Man universe in each of these upcoming films."

The four Spider-Man movies, dating back to 2002, have grossed a combined $3.2 billion worldwide, making them Columbia's most successful franchise.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2," which opens May 2, 2014, stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field and Chris Cooper.

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