Spider-Man is one of the most loved Marvel character’s hands down. He’s relatable, funny and most importantly, probably the face of Marvel to date. Which is why it’s such a tragedy that he’s been pulled out the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Sony, after the latter and Disney’s childish disagreement over a new deal. All for money and without a single thought for the fans, which kind of sucks. If you didn’t know already, Disney offered to pay half the production fee for the Spider-Man films, to receive half of the box office earnings from the movie, whereas previously Sony paid for the production and advertising budget for 95% of the box office takings, leaving Disney with five percent. Obviously, this failed, and when it did, Disney broke off from their previous agreement, and haven’t agreed on another one since. And they probably won’t anytime soon.
A Slight Trip Back to the Past
There are several reasons why Disney and Sony won’t be able to come to terms with a new deal over the web-slinging hero. And that’s largely as of both the company’s deep and dark histories. So let’s take a trip into the past before the superhero genre took off.
Marvel’s bank-balance wasn’t the best during the 1990s. And like everyone would do in that situation, it was looking to make a bit of money, in any way possible. Lucky for them (or unluckily), Sony was also looking for something – specifically, the rights to Spider-Man. Ironically, Marvel didn’t want to sell the tech giant its prize character and offered almost all of the characters that we know from the current MCU. And even more ironically, they were only looking for $25 million for the film rights to all of these characters. But not Spider-Man. (Which is barely anything in the film industry. It’s literally less than one percent of what Avenger’s Endgame made.)
In the end, Marvel for some reason gave in and sold Sony Spider-Man for $7 million. You know the rest. Five films released over the next decade and a half, of which gained Sony around $4 billion, despite some of the films being utterly terrible. Which importantly goes to show that Spider-Man brings the money in, no matter what.
And of course, from the mid-2010s, Marvel and Sony struck a deal that earnt Marvel the rights to make the movies, with Sony’s funding, whilst having five percent of the box office take and 100% of the merchandise rights. Cool. Until Disney got greedy earlier this summer, meaning Spider-Man is no longer in the MCU and also can no longer be influenced by anyone at Marvel. Even those who created and pushed the direction for Homecoming and Far From Home (Kevin Feige) have no input on the future of the franchise.
Why Not Just Buy Sony?
In the last few years, Disney has grown massively. The company has acquired Star Wars, Marvel, the entirety of Fox and a bunch more. That’s a huge amount acquired into one company in a short space of time. Sony is small in comparison to Disney in the media world, but of course, it’s bigger than just films. Sony produces a lot of hardware of different types, like PlayStations, headphones, phones, and more. Disney doesn’t really have the extended grasp of Sony, which stretches into multiple industries – tech, media, gaming. So Disney could buy Sony, but it would be extremely expensive, and probably a bit over the top to just get the rights to Spider-Man.
So why not buy Spider-Man? Surely Disney has a few billion to spare, and that would be some sort of incentive for Sony… But for the good and bad, there are laws in place to stop this. The law can’t allow one company to dominate the industry. If one did, it could control market prices. Thus after the last huge purchases that Disney made, it’s unlikely that the law would allow them to buy back the film rights to Spider-Man (and means that Disney wouldn’t be able to acquire Sony either).
Sony also doesn’t want to sell Spider-Man. Their own Marvel Universe has earnt them more than $7.2 billion, which is almost equivalent to the Avengers Franchise of $7.8 billion. So why would they sell something (unless it’s a ridiculous sum of cash), if it already makes them top box office money?
Sony’s Own Marvel Cinematic Universe
Alongside Spider-Man, Sony has the rights to a whole host of other interesting characters. The Green Goblin, Electro, Dr. Curt Connors and so many more. Especially Venom. It’s been said, despite Tom Holland’s Spider-Man being ripped from the MCU, that the franchise will be continued with likely a third and fourth movie. These will likely coincide with the ‘Venomverse‘, that’s recently earned almost one billion dollars. If Sony can continue making billions without Disney’s influence, then they will, on their own terms in their own universe. Sony’s influence and hold on the film industry has also been weak for a while, so it’s unlikely they’ll give up this opportunity to expand itself into a Spider-Man orientated universe (the Spiderverse).
Selling to Disney would be like buying a video game and getting someone to complete it for you (kind of).