Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man may be in the middle of shooting, but that hasn’t stopped the studios from hiring James Vanderbilt to write the sequel. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Vanderbilt has successfully pitched his continuation of the narrative, and will commence writing shortly. The current film stars Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, along with Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Rhys Ifans, and Sally Field.

There are two ways to read this development. One is that the execs are very happy with the footage that Webb has shot, and are looking to get ahead of the game. There were three year gaps between the previous sequels, and if Vanderbilt can start writing now then they could be ready to go with the next one at a much quicker clip. The latest Spider-Man film is due July 3, 2012, and if they’ve got a good working script by then and are geared for pre-production, the next could be ready for Christmas 2013 or Summer 2014. And since studios stake out franchise tentpoles years in advance, this isn’t that surprising.

The other way to read this is that – regardless of how it’s turning out – the studio would rather have the script in development now than wait to see if it works because when it comes to these sorts of films the script is the cheapest part. Likely the next picture won’t get green-lit until they’ve seen it, and surely they’ll wait for opening weekend to see if audiences are okay with switching directors, stars and narrative. But also the studio wants to hold on to the rights for Spider-Man as a character, and to do so they have to keep films in production. It’s possible they will churn out more – whether audiences like it or not – because there will always be something of an audience.

Though the idea of the reboot came across as a terrible idea, the premise of different people running with the franchise ball doesn’t seem too far from the numerous writers over the years giving Spider-Man different story arcs. There are multiple iterations of Spidey already in comic book form, why not on the big screen?

Is greenlighting a sequel to an unreleased film good or bad business?