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Sony spent a long time trying to wrangle Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire back for a Spider-Man 4, getting as far as casting a villain and planning a release date before finally giving up and going for the reboot. That reboot turned out to be The Amazing Spider-Man, a pretty good if familiar riff on the character. And when it comes time to getting a fourth installment of that franchise, Sony is taking no chances.
The studio announced today that they've locked down the release dates for not only the third Amazing Spider-Man movie, but the fourth one. According to Deadline they've laid claim to June 10, 2016 for the third movie, and May 4, 2018 for the fourth one. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, of course, is already set for May 2, 2014. Unlike Marvel, which locked down the first weekend in May for all Iron Man movies and both Avengers team-ups, Sony is hopscotching Spidey all over the release calendar, seeming to take that first weekend in May only when Marvel hasn't claimed it already. Marvel recently claimed May 6, 2016 for themselves, leading us to speculate it might be for a Doctor Strange movie. But so far the only projects to announce 2018 releases are untitled animated efforts, so for now, Spidey has the superhero scene to himself that summer.
We've been limiting most of our Spider-Man speculation to what's in store for next summer's sequel, but we've got our eye on the distant future too. Given the huge amount of villains cast for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sean has speculated that Marc Webb is mapping out a huge cinematic universe, bringing in baddies like Harry Osborn and The Rhino not for major roles this time around, but for the distant future. After all, it was a lack of planning that helped kill Raimi's Spider-Man 4-- he wanted to go one way with it, the studio wanted another, and they couldn't come to terms. By laying out what he wants early, and by making sure the studio agrees, Webb can afford to spend three movies creating an intricate narrative-- and it's clear the studio has his back if they're assigning release dates 5 years into the future.
Sony doesn't have the chance to make their own expansive Marvel-style comics universe, having let go of the rights to Ghost Rider and focusing entirely on Spidey as their superhero of choice. But if they keep that single character popular, and introduce his rogues gallery of villains in the right way… well, the Venom movie might only be the beginning of the Spider-Man cinematic universe we could see.