Studio giant Sony revealed an expansion of its “Spider-Man” franchise Friday to include spinoffs and sequels, in a move to rival Disney’s Marvel film world centered on “The Avengers” characters.
Sony Pictures Entertainment named a five-strong team of writers to form a “franchise brain trust to expand the universe for the brand and to develop a continuous tone and thread throughout the films.”
The plans fit with the growing importance for Hollywood of blockbuster franchises and sequels with characters that are a proven box-office draw, as the industry grapples with an ongoing revolution in viewing habits and technology.
Sony, in association with Marvel Entertainment, is already working on “Amazing Spider-Man 3,” due for release in 2016, following the first movie in the series in 2012 and a sequel due for release in 2014.
On Friday, they announced two spinoff films, “Venom” and “The Sinister Six,” focusing on villains in the franchise.
“The Spider-Man film franchise is one of our studio’s greatest assets,” said Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures, in a statement announcing the expansion plans.
The five writers are Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Ed Solomon, and Drew Goddard. They will work with producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, and Marc Webb, who directed 2012′s “The Amazing Spider-Man” and the sequel out next year.
“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′,” added Belgrad.
The writers and producers have been involved in other major franchises and films including “Star Trek,” “Transformers,” “Men in Black” and “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” among others, Sony said.
“With more than 50 years’ wealth of stories in the comic books to draw upon for inspiration, the Spider-Man universe is truly boundless,” said the producers.
Sony’s rival Disney, which owns Marvel, has had huge success with its films based on Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk and Thor, before putting them all together in last year’s “The Avengers,” which became the third-biggest grossing movie ever, after “Avatar” and “Titanic.”
Warner Bros did something similar with the DC Comics characters Batman and Superman, who are due to team up in an upcoming sequel to this year’s “Superman: Man of Steel.”
The four Spider-Man films so far released — a triology by director Sam Raimi from 2002 to 2007 and the first “The Amazing Spider-Man” last year — have made over $3.2 billion worldwide, according to Sony.
Screenwriter Ed Solomon attends the “Now You See Me” New York Premiere at AMC Lincoln Square Theater on May 21, 2013 in New York City
[Image via Agence France-Presse]