Spider-Man’s Parents Are Fighting: The Rocky Relationship Between Sony and Marvel
By now you have probably seen the news that Tom Holland’s Peter Parker will never ever be in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie ever again! I mean we all no once an executive says something, their word is set in stone and nothing will ever change it… In reality, once you get passed the headlines and read the facts, (you should know how much I hate click bait) the actual news is a lot less alarming (I mean I really hate click bait.) Basically, there are currently negotiations taking place between Disney/Marvel and Sony about the profit sharing for future Spider-Man movies.
The original deal, set in 2015, had specific restrictions on profits and distribution. The MCU films that featured the wall crawler (Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame) were entirely controlled by Disney/Marvel, who paid for everything and also collected 100% of the profit. The solo Spider-Man movies (Homecoming and Far From Home) would be distributed by Sony. Kevin Feige was a producer on the solo films; some believe his vision is what made these films coherent in the MCU and better films than the two previous iterations. In return, Marvel received 5% of ‘first dollar grossed’ (meaning they only got a fraction of the box office for first day the film hit theaters.)
Rumors are saying that Marvel requested a new deal, a 50/50 split. Marvel would get 50% of all profits for the solo films, but also split the financing and distribution 50% as well. This could also extend to other films in the Spider-Man universe like the Into the Spider-Verse and Venom sequels. Apparently Sony wasn’t open to the idea. They reportedly came back with counter offers (although I cannot find any actual numbers) but Marvel turned them down and are playing hard ball. The understandable concern is about what happens if an understanding can’t be reached; if Peter Parker’s character cannot be used in future MCU movies and if Kevin Feige will no longer have a reason to help Sony on their future films. Personally I can see why both companies are standing their ground on this. However, what I find interesting is how we got to this point and why Marvel doesn’t own the rights to it’s own character.
There once was a time when superhero films were not a guaranteed box office hit. These dark times for nerds were called “the 1980’s.” The most successful superhero film back then was Superman and even that was getting old by Superman III. Marvel was trying to stave off bankruptcy and sold the film rights to a few of their most popular characters. Spider-Man’s IP was bought by a company called Cannon Films…. who then went bankrupt. Then a few decades went by where the rights for Spider-Man passed a few hands and was used as a tool in court rooms. Then gloriously in 1999 Marvel gained back the rights to their own character… and then sold them again. This time the IP was purchased by Sony for $7 million.
In 2002 the first Spider-Man film was released starring Tobey Maguire and directed by Sam Raimi. The movie ended up making the studio over a hundred times more than their original investment to Marvel. Not until six years later did Marvel get the balls to make a film off of another character, Iron Man. And the rest you probably know. Marvel made a cinematic universe, promoted Kevin Feige, and got bought by Disney. Sony on the other hand made Spider-Man 3, which is synonymous with garbage and then attempted a failed reboot trilogy that got cancelled after the second film. Sony needed help getting Spider-Man back into greatness with the public and Marvel wanted to bring a familiar face into the MCU and make nerds all over the world happy. So the 5% deal was made, and things were good until Marvel decided they wanted a larger piece of the Spider-Man pie.
Lie I said, I understand both sides of the argument between Sony and Marvel. Spider-Man: Far From Home was a giant success. The box office was the highest for any Sony movie in history. It made over a billion dollars. For those of you that have seen the film, you understand why Marvel might be upset. If you haven’t see it yet, go read my review and close this article before you get some spoilers. Far From Home was more of a MCU story than most actual Marvel Studio movies. Also, historically speaking, Sony has not made the best decision when it comes to solo films. Not to mention, Peter’s introduction in Civil War is what catapulted the web head back into the lime-light.
On the other hand, why would Sony want to give up half a billion dollars, and give major profits for all future Spider-Man films to Disney. Giving 50% distribution and production rights to the largest entertainment company in the world is just asking them to be bought out in the long term. Not to mention, Sony has been on the upswing lately with their non-MCU Spider-Man movies. Venom was a financial success and people are excited for the sequel being directed by Andy Serkis. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse may not have had a huge box office but it won a damn Oscar. And they also have Jared Leto’s Morbius… so, there is that I guess (okay maybe they do need Marvel’s help after all.)
It’s easy to look at the headlines about the Sony and Marvel negotiations and think the worst, but that isn’t always the case. No one has officially walked away from the table yet and things can always be reversed. Remember when James Gunn wasn’t going to direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? If you are a fan of these new Spider-Man films, just wait for actual news, or better yet just wait for the movie. Jon Watts has done a great job as a director and I have faith he will continue that quality on any future Spider-Man films regardless of the producers behind him. Plus, every superhero movie doesn’t have be the same and I would be interested to see what Sony can do without the restrictions of the MCU. My personal tin-foil hat theory… Far From Home was just re-released into theaters and a story like this, breaking at the same time, will make audiences sad and go see the film again. It is just a little too much of a coincidence. If the relationship between the two companies is really done, I don’t think it’s too long until the strong hand of Mickey Mouse takes Spider-Man regardless. Just look at what happened to Fox, Lucas Films, Pixar, and well… Marvel.
News read and given to you, the people, by: Troy Smith