Why Disney and Sony's Fight Over Spider-Man Really Sucks

Spider-Man Far From Home
Sony and Marvel's fallout over the 'Spider-Man' franchise was made public this week, but the fight's been going on for months.

The Hollywood Reporter did some more digging into the issue in a recent report.

Sony Pictures has held the licensing rights to the Marvel character since the 2002 Tobey Maguire movie from Sam Raimi and had some success with various follow-ups. After Disney acquired Marvel and started building its cinematic universe, they wanted to bring in one of the MCU's most popular superheroes.

THR outlines the simple 2014 agreement between Sony's then-chair Amy Pascal and Disney -- an agreement that was reportedly only four or five pages in length, which is rare for Hollywood:

Sony would loan Spider-Man out for one film, Captain America: Civil War, and in return, Sony would get [Marvel chief Kevin] Feige’s producing service for two movies. The deal was later revised to include both Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. “You have to remember, Marvel wasn’t in the same place as it was now. There was a still a question of how far could this ‘superhero thing’ go,” says one insider familiar with the deal.

Everyone made a lot of money in this deal. An emboldened Sony decided to dive into the genre fully, making both Venom and the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, both extremely successful films at the box office. Only the latter proved a hit with both critics and on the awards circuit, having won the Best Animated Film Academy Award. 

According to THR's insider source, current Sony Pictures chief Tom Rothman "is thinking ‘Okay, we’ve learned everything we need to from Kevin’s playbook. We did Venom on our own and we did Spider-Verse.'"

Spider-Man Homecoming
Credit: Marvel Studios

The latest film, Spider-Man: Far from Home, has grossed over a billion dollars and has become Sony's most successful movie ever, surpassing the haul of their previous highest-grosser: 2012's 007 movie, Skyfall.

According to sources, star Tom Holland is signed to one more movie, and Sony is also moving ahead with an Andy Serkis-helmed Venom sequel. THR theorizes that the studios will probably go back to the table and make another deal, because it's really to no one's benefit to exclude Spidey from the MCU.

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This is nothing but a bunch of posturing by multi-billion dollar corporations.

Obviously, Sony bought into Marvel ages before anyone recognized the value and thus was rewarded for claiming the rights to one of the largest Marvel Franchises.

Disney was dumb to think they could more than double their cut into Spider-Man. They might own Marvel after the fact, but they waited to long and now they have to deal with Sony.

Anyone doing contract negotiations could see that an 800% increase in Disney's stakes in the franchise's revenue... let alone having to share 50/50 on the intellectual Property was a terrible deal/proposition that Disney pitched to Sony.

Non-buyer's Remorse should not factor into major stakes in a multi-billion dollar franchise, and while Disney may think they have leverage here they really got nothing and should have stuck with something more... reasonable like... 25%.

Sony knows this and they stuck to a hard line because even the worst Spider-Man films were wildly successful, there is huge demand for Spider-Man in the MCU, Sony actually was smart about taking the earlier deal to learn from Disney MCU producer.

On one end this kind of sucks for consumers, but the companies will probably come up with a compromise once all the data from analytics shows up about people commenting from the news feeds.

August 26, 2019 at 9:10AM

Kyle Dockum
Videographer and Editor