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Two Untitled Sony/Marvel Movies Get 2020 Release Dates

Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters is expanding.

The studio announced 2020 release dates for two new entries into its cinematic universe featuring Spider-Man related characters. An "untitled Sony-Marvel project" will hit screens on July 10, while an "untitled Sony-Marvel sequel" will follow on October 2. Variety was first to break the news.

While Sony isn't spilling the beans as to what these projects will be, informed observers already have a pretty good idea. The July slot is almost certainly reserved for Morbius, which should be going before the cameras shortly. Back in June, it was reported that Jared Leto had been cast in the lead role in the film, which had already landed director Daniel Espinosa (who was at the helm of 2017's Life). The character of Dr. Michael Morbius, a scientist who becomes a "living vampire" after a failed attempt to cure himself of a blood disease, first appeared in the pages of Spider-Man comics in 1971. 

As for the "untitled sequel," it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this can't really be anything but Venom 2. This year's Tom Hardy-starrer exceeded Sony's wildest expectations at the box office, raking in nearly $780 million worldwide; it's simply a no-brainer that the studio would have a followup in the pipeline, and since Venom is currently the only film in their Universe of Marvel Characters, it's a pretty safe bet that Hardy's freaky-tongued symbiote will be back for round two. 

Sony may very well be undergoing a slight course correction to focus on some of the darker, more antihero-type characters at its disposal in the wake of Venom's success. Earlier this year, it was reported that their long-in-development Silver and Black — which would have focused on Spider-Man allies Silver Sable and Black Cat — had been permanently shelved, ostensibly in favor of solo vehicles for the two characters. But with Venom raking in the big bucks, Morbius appears to have been fast-tracked, with the fate of Sony's other Spidey-related properties in limbo for now.  

So far, there's been little speculation on what this all means for Sony's deal with Marvel Studios, which basically allows shared custody of the web-slinger, with Sony producing his MCU-set solo vehicles and Marvel free to use the character in its other films. Shortly before Venom's release, it was rumored that Sony had insisted on a PG-13 rating for the film in the hopes that it could eventually become MCU canon, a notion which didn't seem to sit well with Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige.

Currently, Tom Holland — the Peter Parker of the MCU — is under contract for three more films in total, two of which are known to be next year's as-yet untitled Avengers 4 and Spider-Man: Far From Home. That leaves only one additional movie remaining after 2019, at which point Sony and Marvel's partnership could be renegotiated — or not.

It became evident with 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (some would say far sooner) that Sony had hit a wall with Spidey, and that the Marvel partnership was the only way to revitalize the character's flagging film fortunes. It's also obvious that Peter Parker works best when he's allowed to live in a universe populated with other Marvel heroes; the comic book version of Peter has always been defined by his relationships with other characters, something Marvel Studios understood perfectly when introducing ol' Web-Head to the MCU.

But if Sony starts to think that it can build its own successful universe around Spider-Man without the need for the MCU's supporting cast, then all bets are off. Venom is just one film, and it's no guarantor of comparable future success — but if Sony's 2020 slate of Marvel flicks does happen to blow up the box office, it will certainly give them a fair amount of leverage over Feige and company.

We'll have additional news on Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters as it becomes available.