Sony's plans for its Spider-Man cinematic franchise include releasing two more regular installments, along with a pair of spinoffs, over the course of the next four years or so. Amazing Spider-Man 3 was tentatively set for a 2016 release date last year, but now the rumor is circulating that the next straightforward chapter in the Amazing Spider-Man iteration of the Peter Parker story, may instead arrive in 2017 - with its spot in 2016 possibly being taken by Sinister Six, the previously-announced spinoff revolving around a team of half a dozen Spider-Man villains.
Obviously, we ought to sprinkle a dash of salt on this rumor before anything else. That said, it was recently reported that production on Sinister Six may start in January 2015, suggesting a 2016 release date target; along similar lines, just three weeks ago Drew Goddard withdrew as the show runner for Marvel Studios' Daredevil series, in order to concentrate his efforts instead on Sinister Six (which he's both writing and directing). Reading between the lines, it's possible that Sony has changed course a bit with its Spider-Man movie release schedule - and thus, Sinister Six has been upgraded to the next big priority, forcing Goddard to drop Daredevil.
AICN dropped the Amazing Spider-Man 3 rumor during its report on the potential WB/DC movie schedule that made waves yesterday, claiming that such shared universe crossovers as Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League have been bumped ahead of a straightforward franchise installment like Man of Steel 2. The accuracy of said lineup remains to be determined, but in the past we've heard things - like how WB/DC probably won't replicate Marvel Studios' approach to building a superhero universe - that suggest this schedule may, at least, be partly correct. Point being, it's feasible that Sony has likewise re-evaluated its plan to construct a movie universe Marvel Studios-style, where it concerns Spider-Man.
Why would Sony do that? Well, for one, Amazing Spider-Man 2 is currently the lowest-grossing Spider-Man film and received the overall worst critical reception for a Spidey movie to date; even in my positive review, I acknowledged that the shared universe material weakened the Amazing Spider-Man sequel. That is to say, a change in tactics on that front could be a smart move, as a way to re-invigorate the general public's interest in seeing the Spider-Man film series continue. Jumping right into Sinister Six - rather than attempting to fit more villain origin subplots into the larger Peter Parker narrative for Amazing Spider-Man 3 first - may benefit both movies, while also feeling like a fresher move, at this stage in Hollywood's superhero game.
Finally, there've been signs that Amazing Spider-Man 3 might be so far long in development as would be desirable right now. During out interview last month with Amazing Spider-Man series director Marc Webb, the filmmaker admitted that Amazing Spider-Man 3 doesn't even have a theme yet - and seeing how TASM3 co-writer Roberto Orci has a lot on his plate right now (namely, co-writing and directing the next Star Trek movie), more breathing room on the next Spider-Man film might be welcomed, by all concerned parties. Furthermore, as noted in a report by Spider Man News, Webb's deal with 20th Century Fox could require him to direct a movie for them, before he can move forward with TASM3 for Sony.
Of course, even if this rumor is true and Sinister Six arrives before Amazing Spider-Man 3, this strategy isn't at all guaranteed to work in Sony's favor. There's still a good deal of doubt surrounding the prospect of a Sinister Six movie; not just in terms of its bankability, but with regard to how Spider-Man would fit into the story (and how Peter Parker actor Andrew Garfield's contract with Sony might affect that). Nonetheless, if this particular shared movie universe is going to work, then it might help to mix things up a little with the building process.
For now, The Amazing Spider-Man 3 remains scheduled to hit theaters on June 10th, 2016. We'll let you know when Sinister Six gets an official release date.