Seeing as Spider-Man is definitely one of the top five most recognizable superheroes on the planet, and superheroes have been pretty much the most profitable thing you can make movies about over the last decade or so, it makes sense that Sony wouldn’t want to give up the rights to making Spider-Man movies and have them revert back to Disney/Marvel Studios.

A new press release from the studio [via /Film] reveals just how enthusiastic they are about making sure that the further adventures of the web head stay under their control. Even though they only have to keep making Spider-Man movies every few years to keep control of the property, which currently puts them in a very safe position seeing as they’re deep into production on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 right now, they’ve decided to take steps to ensure that Spidey won’t be going back to his Marvel roots at least up through 2018.

That’s right, Sony must really like what they’re seeing over on Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 set, because before that movie can even be finished, they’re already going ahead with plans for not just another ASM sequel, but two more sequels. This new press release firms up dates for three upcoming movies, which are apparently going to look as follows: We’ll see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on May 2, 2014, The Amazing Spider-Man 3 on June 10, 2016, and The Amazing Spider-Man 4 on May 4, 2018.

Does it seem a little ridiculous to be planning sequels all the way up to 2018? Probably. Does Sony even have Webb and his star, Andrew Garfield, under contract all the way up through four films? Probably. Though these sorts of things used to always come in threes, huge franchises like The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and the Marvel Movie Universe have changed the movie landscape to the point where ongoing, endless franchises are now becoming the norm. So it makes sense that contracts binding up talent would start to include more and more movies. Just take it from Sony’s marketing and distribution chairman, Jeff Blake, who said, “Spider-Man is our most important, most successful, and most beloved franchise, so we’re thrilled that we are in a position to lock in these prime release dates over the next five years.”

If this keeps up, we might be seeing the first steps back toward the days when studios owned actors’ entire careers outright. You know, until the first time a big star gets signed to a ten picture deal and then develops a drug habit or something. Then we’ll probably be back to square one.

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