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Sony Expands ‘Spider-Man’ Universe With ‘Venom,’ ‘Sinister Six’

Studio forms 'brain trust' for Spidey spinoffs

Sony Pictures Entertainment,  in association with Marvel Entertainment, is expanding the Spider-Man franchise by turning to villains with “Venom” and “The Sinister Six.”

The studio, in an announcement late Thursday night, disclosed that a quintet of writers — Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Ed Solomon, and Drew Goddard — will collaborate on overseeing the developing story over several films that will be produced by Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach.

The five writers, along with the two producers and Marc Webb, have formed a “franchise brain trust” to expand the universe for the brand — licensed from Marvel — and to develop a continuous tone and thread throughout the films.

Webb directed last year’s franchise reboot “The Amazing Spider-Man” and the upcoming “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Kurtzman, Orci and Pinkner wrote the screenplay for the latter, which Arad and Tolmach produced.

“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,'” Arad and Tolmach said. “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.”

Kurtzman, Orci and Pinkner are writing the screenplay for “The Amazing Spider-Man 3,” which the studio hopes Webb will direct. That film will go into production next fall for release on June 10, 2016.

Sony made the announcement late Thursday night via the web site ElectoArrives.com.

Kurtzman will direct “Venom” from a script he’s writing with  Orci and Solomon. Goddard will write “The Sinister Six” with an eye to direct.

Venom first appeared in 2007’s “Spider-Man 3” and was portrayed by Topher Grace.

Columbia Pictures president of production Hannah Minghella and Rachel O’Connor will oversee development and production of the films.

The four “Spider-Man” films, dating back to 2002, have grossed a combined $3.2 billion worldwide for the studio.

“The Spider-Man film franchise is one of our studio’s greatest assets,” said Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad. “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 films.”

The announcement noted that the “brain trust” has experience in franchises. Kurtzman, Orci and Pinkner worked on the “Star Trek” and “Transformers” movies and TV’s “Alias” and “Fringe”; Goddard worked on “Alias” and “World War Z”;  Solomon wrote “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “Men In Black.”

The announcement comes a week after the film studio tapped Micheal De Luca to be president of production in a team-up with Minghella. The studio, which has been through a rough year with several major flops, announced three weeks ago it was trimming its slate and moving to cut costs.

The expansion of the Spider-Man universe will give Sony at least two more tentpoles in “Venom” and “Sinister Six.”  “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” directed by Webb, is slated to open May 2, 2014 and the next installments have been set to bow June 10, 2016 and May 4, 2018.

Sony’s other tentpole is the 24th Bond movie that it’s co-producing with MGM. It will open in the U.S. on Nov. 6, 2015.

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