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There is a whole lot of drama in the Marvel Universe right now surrounding one of our most beloved characters Spidey (Spider-man). Let’s start with a quick breakdown, Reader’s Digest version, to all get on the same page.
Sony owns the rights to Spider-man. Sony previously made an agreemnt to make a certain number of movies with Spider-man. That agreement has come to an end over because they have made the agreed to amount of movies. As of today, August 23, 2019, no new agreement has been reached between Disney and Marvel. Disney acquired the Marvel franchise in 2009 for $4 billion.
If there is no new agreement, Spider-man will no longer be a part of the Marvel universe. If Disney and Sony cannot reach an agreement, then Sony will retain rights to Spider-man and Spider-man alone. Sony could continue to make movies using Spider-man but no other Marvel characters could be involved in the film. So, if they continue to make Spider-man movies, no other Marvel characters that are owned by Disney can cameo or be mentioned in the movies in any way, shape or form in those films.
There you go. In a nutshell, that is what is happening. So, what does this mean for Marvel? What does this mean for Disney? What does this mean for Sony?
Sony is a subsiderary of NBCUniversal, which is a subsidiary of Comcast. According to Investopedia, NBCUniversal was formed in 2004 with the merger of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment. Then in 2011,Comcast acquired a 51% majority stake in NBCUniversal. NBC Universal owns Universal Studios.
Sony released a rare press release via Twitter to address the situation. Sony expressed their disappointed in Disney’s decision to no longer have Kevin Feige as a lead producer in Spider-Man films, claiming it’s because of Feige’s increased workload following Disney’s acquisition of Fox earlier this year. Disney has not yet commented on these claims but has said it hopes the situation “might change in the future.”
Disney will retain the Intellectual Property rights to Spider-man but will not own the movie rights unless a new agreement can be reached. This means that Disney retains the rights to use Spider-man in Avengers Campus, the new Marvel themed land coming to Disneyland. There are also Marvel themed attractions coming to Hong Kong Disney and Disneyland Paris.
Box office wise, there’s currently only one studio other than Disney in the 2019 top-five highest-grossing movies. That studio is Sony, whose “Spider-Man: Far from Home” grossed $1.11 billion worldwide. The larest film ever for the studio. But that project most likely wouldn’t be what it is without contribution from Disney’s Marvel. Disney has loaned out producer Kevin Feige to Sony, starting with “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
With the recent merger with Fox, Disney has owned 40% of the box office. While over at Sony, their second-biggest hit this year was “Men in Black International,” which only brought in a disappointing $253 million worldwide. That means that Sony would have to make four Men in Blacks to get to a $1 billion; while Disney has seen five films so far in 2019 cross $1 billion worldwide.
The question becomes if Sony can continue their success with Spider-Man without the help of Disney and Kevin Feige. So, why does Spider-man differ from other Marvel characters in terms of ownership? It actually dates back all the way to the 1980’s and involves a number of bankruptcies, mergers, and historic deals.
Sony and Disney recently made a deal to share. For the last two Spider-Man movies, Disney took a smaller percentage of profits from each, about 5% of dollar gross and in exchange, Sony allowed Marvel to use Spidey in “Captain America: Civil War,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “Endgame,” bringing one of Marvel’s most famous and beloved characters into the fold.
According to Deadline, Disney recently offered Sony an arrangement for 50/50 co-financing arrangement which Sony didn’t accept or even offer a counter agreement to. Without an agreement between the two studios, Disney will lose Spiderman from the MCU (Marvel Character Universe) and Sony will lose Marvel super-producer Kevin Feige which could severely damage the string holding the studio together.
The stars of Marvel including Tom Holland, who plays Spiderman and Robert Downey Jr. who plays Ironman hae had plenty to say regarding the situation. Mark Ruffalo who plays Ant Man in the MCU posted a series of sad face emoji’s following Holland and Downey Jr. posting photos hanging out in the wild with Holland commenting “We did it Mr. Stark”. It is clear the stars of the franchise are hoping to remain family on and off screen. Time and money will tell.
Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.
(Source: Investopedia, Deadline, Yahoo Entertainment, Gizmodo, IGN)