Bad news, true believers, Spider-Man may be out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. First reported by DEADLINE, it appears that, in trying to negotiate the terms of a deal to extend Sony and Disney/Marvel Studios’ partnership in producing films starring Marvel’s web-slinger, Sony has refused to return to the negotiating table. Sony owns the film rights to the character, but, since February of 2015, Sony and Marvel Studios have had a partnership that led to Spider-Man’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame, as well as the creative direction — guided by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige — for the Sony solo-films Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home which were both co-produced by Marvel Studios and featured Disney-owned characters such as Iron Man and Captain America.
Reportedly, Disney and Marvel Studios thought it was the right call for Sony and Marvel to co-finance future Spider-Man films (which would probably mean that they’d share the profit), and Disney supposedly even proposed future creative involvement on Spider-Man spin-off films, which would likely be of great assistance to Sony. Reportedly, Sony flat-out refused these terms and refused to renegotiate and come to a compromise, though other outlets have hope that they may renegotiate soon. In DEADLINE journalist Mike Fleming, Jr.’s own words: “Sony just simply didn’t want to share its biggest franchise. Sony proposed keeping the arrangement going under the current terms where Marvel receives in the range of 5% of first-dollar gross, sources said. Disney refused.”
I think this is incredibly frustrating news. Disney had with Spider-Man: Far From Home positioned Peter Parker to be the future star of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but, even though Sony reportedly has two Tom Holland-led sequels in the pipeline, now it appears that Peter Parker may be wiped from existence in the fictional universe.
Sony has had a lot of success with their Marvel films recently. Venom, though a critical failure, was a huge financial success. Into the Spider-Verse won an Oscar. Homecoming and Far From Home were also major success stories, even though Marvel had creative control. Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige’s involvement allowed for audiences to be patient, accepting, and even excited by the idea of another reboot. Civil War and the Avengers-films (as well as the creative involvement of Feige on solo films) made Homecoming and Far From Home the success stories that they were.
You can certainly understand how both companies felt they had the upper-hand in negotiations. But this is just silly. Yes, I think Disney’s offer of ’50/50 co-financing and profit share’ may be a little bit greedy considering their original deal, but that Sony ‘flat-out’ refused to find a compromise is arrogant and dumb.
Sony owes a lot of their recent success to Disney, and if they think otherwise the people at the negotiating table have no business making these types of decisions. Spider-Man: Far From Home literally just became the highest-grossing Sony Pictures film ever because of the partnership with Marvel Studios which made Far From Home a must-watch epilogue to Avengers: Endgame, the highest-grossing film of all-time.
I think that someone is, for sure, negotiating through the press. Frankly, I’m disappointed and very upset. I was so happy with Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is genuinely heartbreaking for fans like myself. I really hope Sony and Disney renegotiate and find a compromise. They have to find a compromise, or they risk ruining the universe that they have worked so hard to build together.
UPDATE: In a statement released to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony has placed ‘the blame on Disney for cutting short the inner-studio co-operation.’ It seems to me that Disney was trying to negotiate through the press via Deadline and that Sony is now countering their move (or continuing, if they started the Deadline article) via The Hollywood Reporter in an attempt to call Disney’s bluff. Furthermore, another THR report indicates that Disney actually sought out a 30% co-financing and profit share deal, but that Sony would not agree to it. Variety claims that Sony Pictures chief Tom Rothman was willing to agree to a 25% co-financing and profit share deal. Finally, Deadline has since reported that: “Disney asked for a 25% stake where it would finance that much of the movie and receive that much of the equity upside.” It’s difficult to make heads or tails of all of this.
UPDATE, Pt. II: Following a presentation at D23, Kevin Feige said the following to Entertainment Weekly: “It was a dream that I never thought would happen. It was never meant to last forever. We knew there was a finite amount of time that we’d be able to do this.” Though Tom Holland expressed some hope in his comments with reporters. I’m still shocked that they haven’t found a compromise yet. We’ll see what happens. I’m hoping for a continued partnership, but I’m getting worried.
– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.