By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist June 13, 2014 at 9:32AM
Amidst all the hoo-ha about the Warner Bros./DC Comics release schedule that landed yesterday, a little tidbit slipped out about when we might next see a film for one of the big rival superhero franchises. Ahead of the release of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" earlier this summer, Sony announced a summer 2016 release date for "The Amazing Spider-Man 3," and a similar date for "The Amazing Spider-Man 4" in 2018, with "The Sinister Six" and "Venom" spin-offs also planned at some point.
But Mr. Beaks at Ain't It Cool News has heard of reports that "The Amazing Spider-Man 3" might end up being pushed back until 2017, and while there's no confirmation of that being the case, it's not hard to believe. The summer of 2016 is already looking almost as packed at 2015, with "Batman v Superman," "Captain America 3" and "X-Men: Apocalypse" all landing in May along with with "Alice In Wonderland 2"; July bringing "Shazam!," "Tarzan," "King Arthur," a third "Planet Of The Apes" movie, "Independence Day 2" and an untitled Marvel picture (most likely "Doctor Strange," and "Finding Dory" and "How To Train Your Dragon 3" both currently slated to land just a week after "The Amazing Spider-Man 3" in June. In other words, another summer clusterfuck, and one that Sony might be smart to steer clear of.
Especially as "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" failed to live up to box office hopes. Sony were open about their hopes that the film would hit the billion-dollar mark, but in fact, it's proved disappointing: the film's already starting to wind down, and will make significantly less than the $260 million domestic total of its predecessor (it's struggling to cross the $200 million mark, in fact), and may fail to pass that film internationally as well: it currently stands at $700 million, $60 million less than the first film, and still well under any of the Sam Raimi films.
It was also greeted by fairly hostile reviews and word-of-mouth from fans, which hardly helps the franchise building that Sony tried so hard to pull off. $700 million isn't to be sniffed at: as expensive as the film is, it'll still make a profit, especially given the merchandising opportunities that go with it. But the studio was dreaming of the kind of profits that come with "The Avengers," "The Dark Knight" or "Iron Man," and look to have been firmly thwarted with that so far.
Now, one possibility is that the studio is using the release date as a placeholder, and will soon announce that "The Sinister Six" (which Drew Goddard recently dropped out of the "Daredevil" TV show for, suggesting it would be coming sooner rather than later) will take over that June 2016 date. But even that's going to be something of a risky move: it's a movie focusing on villains, with Andrew Garfield's Spidey likely to be a cameo at best, and of the six bad guys, we've only met Dane DeHaan's Goblin and Paul Giamatti's Rhino (Electro and Lizard are unlikely to return, owing to being dead and Rhys Ifans falling out with Sony, respectively), and that makes it a dicier prospect than most in a very tough summer market. We'd argue that Sony should act now and grab that early April date that paid off so well for "Captain America 2"...
The other possibility is that Sony paid attention to hostile fan reaction, and are actually taking the time to get the script for the third film right, rather than rushing it into release less than two years after the previous entry as they did with the second picture. But quality control hasn't exactly been the biggest concern with this franchise, right?
Fanboys should note that any doom and gloom connected to the franchise does not make it any likelier that Sony will give Marvel the rights to the character back: the merchandising alone means that Sony would continue to release a "Spider-Man" movie every other year until the world stops turning in order to hang on to them, even if they cost $100,000 and were released on four screens. But it's certainly clear from the box office of the most recent film that they need to shake things up if they're going to compete with some of their rivals.