This past week, reports began to circulate that the Amazing Spider-Man spinoff Sinister Six - a film about a team of Spider-Man super villains - might be in serious danger of being cancelled. Not so, it turns out, as Sony/Columbia Pictures has announced an official Fall 2016 release date for writer/director Drew Goddard's Sinister Six movie. Meanwhile, Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2 director Marc Webb's Amazing Spider-Man 3 has been pushed to 2018 (presumably, the May 2018 spot that Sony is currently holding onto).
Goddard stepped down as the showrunner for Marvel Studios' upcoming Daredevil series a couple months back, in order to concentrate his efforts on getting Sinister Six ready. However, recent comments made by certain other prominent members of the Amazing Spider-Man franchise "brain trust" - Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, to be exact - indicated that Sony's original plans for the series' future may've changed (worst case scenario, that the blueprints for building a Shared Spider-Man movie universe may've been abandoned), in reaction to Amazing Spider-Man 2's overall shaky critical reception and box office drop-off from its predecessor.
Sony, however, has now revealed its hand of cards, not so coincidentally as the 2014 International Comic-Con gets up and running. Sinister Six now has a November 11th, 2016 release date - one week before WB releases its Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them. The month of November has long served franchises such as Harry Potter and James Bond well (among others), while Thor: The Dark World proved last year that superhero movies can also thrive at the box office during that frame.
However, there are some pressing questions to ask about Sinister Six. For one, will the movie feature Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spidey, seeing how the actor previously said he's only contracted for three Spider-Man films - and if the final movie that's part of Garfield's current deal is meant to be Amazing Spider-Man 3 (as would make the most sense), does that mean Sinister Six won't actually feature his Spider-Man?
Likewise, what big name actors are gong to be recruited to fill the Sinister Six roster that already includes Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and the Harry Osborn Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan) - not to mention, potentially Felicity Jones as Felicia Hardy/Black Cat, while Jamie Foxx as Electro remains a (slight) possibility? And how will the turnout for a Wild Bunch-style movie with Spider-Man villains compare to other Spider-Man films, especially given that the moviegoing public has shown signs of Spidey fatigue of late? (Not to mention, there's still that Venom movie, waiting in the wings...) The sustainability of a Spider-Man Shared Universe is questionable, to say the least.
Having said all that, the good news is that releasing Sinister Six before Amazing Spider-Man 3 frees up the latter from having to devote too much of its running time to world-building (a la The Amazing Spider-Man 2). Plus, Marvel Studios left the May 2018 frame open for Sony's next Amazing Spider-Man installment - which means that Webb's film will have more time to develop, fewer larger franchise duties to fulfill, and less direct competition to face at the box office.
Sinister Six opens in U.S. theaters on November 11th, 2016. The Amazing Spider-Man 3 is arriving in 2018, presumably on the May 4th, 2018 date once reserved for Amazing Spider-Man 4.
Source: Sony/Columbia Pictures