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Sony Hires Superstar Writers to Expand 'Spider-Man' Universe

The studio has tapped Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Ed Solomon and Drew Goddard with "Venom" and "Sinister Six" movies in the works.

Sony is making good on its promise to expand the Spider-Man universe in a big way, hiring superstar writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Ed Solomon and Drew Goddard to work on a large-scale story that will encompass several films.

The writers will work with Spider-Man producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach and The Amazing Spider-Man director Marc Webb to form what Sony is calling a “franchise brain to expand the universe for the brand and to develop a continuous tone and thread throughout the films,” according to Sony’s announcement, which was leaked Thursday night through the website ElectoArrives.com.

Kurtzman and Orci are already working on a third installment of Amazing Spider-Man. Sony has also announced a release date for a fourth Amazing Spider-Man movie for May 4, 2018.

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But Kurtzman, Orci and Solomon will write Venom, centered on the black costumed villain that already made his big screen debut in the third Spider-Man movie of the Sam Raimi trillogy, that Kurtzman will direct.

Goddard, meanwhile, will write, with an eye to direct, The Sinister Six, which will focus on Spider-Man’s villains.

“The Spider-Man film franchise is one of our studio’s greatest assets,” said Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad. “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. We believe that Marc, Alex, and Drew have the uniquely exciting visions for how to expand the Spider-Man universe in each of these upcoming films.”

Kurtzman, Orci and Pinkner are already experienced in world and franchise building, with their work on the Star Trek and Transformers movies as well as shows such as Fringe.

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Goddard, who worked with Kurtzman, Orci and Pinkner on TVs Alias, was one of the saviors of World War Z after that movie ran into third act trouble and is now into the Marvel fold with Daredevil, the Netflix series whose pilot he is writing and directing.

Solomon, meanwhile, is best know for his writing Bill and Teds Excellent Adventures and Men In Black. He was also a writer on this summers surprise hit, Now You See Me.

The building of a movie universe seems to be the major trend for studios right now and stems directly from Marvel Studios' success with The Avengers and creating its own shared cinematic universe in which separate movies are connected by events and characters. It mimics the idea that came from the creation of the Marvel Universe in the 1960s comics.

But despite much effort, not all Marvel characters are under its (or parent company Disney's) umbrella, as several key properties remain in the hands of studios who are now taking that concept and running with it as they seek to find new ways to keep their franchises fresh.

Fox recently re-upped with writer-producer Simon Kinberg, who told THR that he was going to be an architect of the studio's expanding X-Men universe. (Fox is also rebooting the Fantastic Four franchise, but it's not clear if those two franchises will ever cross-over)

Even Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment are following the Marvel method and working there way towards a movie featuring DC's superhero team, the Justice League. The Man of Steel sequel has already cast its Batman and Wonder Woman.

Sony's announcement now puts it into the universe-creating game, along with the others.

What’s interesting with Sony’s take is that it’s focusing on villains. While Avengers and X-Men are team books ripe with spin-off characters, Spider-Man’s universe really only has one hero: himself. But he does posses one of the richest rogue’s galleries in comics, not to mention an endearing and iconic supporting cast.

The Sinister Six has has had several permutations in the comics but originally featured Doctor Octopus, Electro, Sandman, Mysterio, Vulture and Kraven the Hunter.  Octopus already appeared in Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, while Sandman was the villain (along with Venom) in Spider-Man 3.

Electro and the Rhino are the villains in Amazing Spider-Man 2.