Sony continues to prove that it doesn’t get it by suddenly announcing a Venom movie
Sony, doing its best to be the cool, unpredictable studio, surprised and bewildered everyone by quietly announcing that a movie based on the Spider-Man character of Venom is scheduled for October 5, 2018. The news came via Exhibitor Relations, who confirmed that the news was sent to them by Sony, but there were very few other details to go on.
It was a very underwhelming reveal of what is apparently one part of a much bigger plan. Rather than getting people all excited for a new comic book movie, Sony’s announcement just kind of confused everyone. With Marvel and WB’s DC films – which have an established roadmap – adding a new film creates more potential. Announcing a new film in one of those universes is an event in itself. Fans can get excited that a character they love is heading to the big screen (or the small screen in many cases). This announcement just creates a lot of questions.
To begin with, Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man and the characters directly related to Spider-Man, including Venom. Back when Andrew Garfield was Spider-Man and Sony was working on its second attempt at franchising the property, the studio announced plans for at least two spinoffs – Venom and Sinister Six. The films would both be part of that shared Spider-verse.
Things didn’t work out as Sony hoped, of course. The Amazing Spider-Man series didn’t make it past two movies, and Sony eventually cut a deal that gave some creative control of Spider-Man to Marvel Studios while keeping the movies. Marvel’s formula makes Sony a ton of money, and in return, the MCU gains access to the library of Spider-Man characters. It was a win for everyone and a sign that sony was willing to listen to others.
The deal also means that Venom will be part of the MCU as a villain or a hero (he’s been both in the comics). The character may appear in other Marvel films beyond the scope of Sony, but it’s unclear how much control Marvel Studios will have in the initial film. If Sony is doing this on its own without the oversight or help of Marvel, things could be complicated, quickly.
This announcement is also just bizarrely timed. Spider-Man: Homecoming is due out on July 7, 2017. It will be the second appearance for Tom Holland as Spider-Man, and the first new Spider-Man film for Sony. Announcing a spinoff before that film even hits the theaters is bold to the point of arrogance. By rebooting the franchise twice already, it shows that it doesn’t yet have a firm grasp on the character and yet now they are already planning another film based on their still-unproven relaunched franchise.
It also raises the question of how Venom will be introduced. Is the announcement a spoiler for Homecoming? Is this what we’ll see in the button after the credits? Does that mean the wild fan theories that Life is secretly a Venom prequel may be true?
The timing of the announcement is also a little discouraging.
Rather than being part of a well-constructed plan, Sony confirmed the Venom film hours after WB announced that it was moving Aquaman from its original October 5, 2018 release date to December 21, 2018. Sony jumped in almost frantically. It could have just claimed the date and stated it was a “major Sony release,” but instead it quietly announced a Venom movie with no details, no hype, and possibly no plan. It does not feel like a confident move.
If the hope was that fans would be excited once the news broke, they overestimated their own success and left a confusing question mark. Hopefully, a Venom film will make a good addition to the MCU and Sony shared universe, but if the announcement is anything to go on, the film may not have a great foundation to build on.