Making this thread because it seems like a lot of people are under the impression that every Marvel film has about a 5 or 6 year deadline for their licensed films and that deadline is tied to the specific releases of the films, neither of which is true. X-Men, Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four all have different licensing deadlines and each contract appears to have a deadline clause on not only the release dates of the films but also their production dates, which of course prevents the studios from making ashcan films as was the case with that old FF movie; in fact, Spider-Man and X-Men appear to have much shorter deadline windows than most people realize. Here are the deadlines based on numerous factors including the frequency of release for the films, and other outside factors in the case of Spider-Man. -X-Men: Currently, it appears as though an X-Men film has to be in active production every year. This is clear by the fact that ever since X-Men Origins Fox has been and has plans to release X-Men films at a 2 year clip. Before that film, they were releasing them every 3 years, which indicates a production deadline of at least 2 years. I'm not sure what accounted for the decrease in production deadline, but it may have something to do with the turn of the decade. I don't believe that increased interest in the films is a factor in the ramped up production time either as, if you recall, the studio had to rush First Class into production just a year after Origins was released, not to mention they were coming off of a movie that was critically panned and grossed significantly less than the film that came before it...and also the fact Fox is known for waiting until the last minute to begin production on these movies. So, in other words, X-Men films have to be in perpetual production for Fox to keep the rights. -Spider-Man: A new film has to go into production every 1-2 years. Spider-Man 1 was released in 2002, Spider-Man 2 in 2004 (less than a year gap between end of post-production on Spider-Man), and Spider-Man 3 in 2007 (less than a 2 year gap between end of post-production on SM2). Now, there was a 5 year gap between SM3 and TASM, but there is a specific reason Sony got away with this. After Sam Raimi dropped out of SM4 suddenly in late 2009, this threw production into disarray and they had to cancel it, as is well documented. If you look at the timeline of events, this matches up perfectly for when Sony sold the animation and merchandising rights for Spider-Man back to Disney/Marvel for, as Greg Weisman calls it, "concessions on the live action films". As Sony was not going to meet the production and release deadline for SM4 (they had the film slated for 2011) they had to sale those rights back for more time on the movies. You might wonder why Disney would even do this, but the situation might have been where Sony could have still released a film on time but it would have been horribly rushed, therefore to avoid this they made a deal with Marvel that they both would benefit from. Sony would have more time to make the film while Marvel got animation and merchandising rights back and avoided Spider-Man's brand being sullied by a horrendous movie. Now, the Spider-Man film franchise is back on track with TASM2 having less than a year gap between the end of production on TASM. -Fantastic Four: Movie has to go into production at least every 5 years and release every 7. As far as I can tell 20th Century Fox got the rights around 1997 and released the first film in 2004. It was in a long period of production during that period, and Marvel was probably more lax on pressuring the contract back then especially since superhero movies were an unknown quantity until X-Men and Spider-Man. Now, the last film was released in 2007, meaning production on it probably ended back in 2006 or early 2007. It's clear that the deadline is coming up for the FF rights, and it appears that production will begin on the movie this year. The matches the 5-6 year production timeline that the last FF film series had. Interestingly, you can see the value the film series have to Marvel in order of their production deadlines. X-Men must be in perpetual development, Spider-Man every 1-2 years, and FF every 5 years or so.