As a result of talks at the top levels of both Disney and Sony, it would appear that Spider-Man will no longer be appearing in any further films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These talks were an attempt by Disney to renegotiate the financial status of the Spider-Man film properties. As it stands, Disney possesses a stake of a 5 percent “first-dollar gross.” For anyone unfamiliar with the vernacular, it essentially means that a given holder earns that percentage of the film’s box office earnings on release day. For movies that end up doing exceedingly well, this is a practice that can earn individual actors an unexpected extra paycheck if written into their contract; however, for an entire company such as Disney, the earnings amount to a far less significant sum. According to Deadline, in an effort to change their co-financing status with the solo Spider-Man films, Disney pushed for a 50/50 agreement, which Sony shot down. Sony then suggested keeping the status quo with the aforementioned first-dollar gross arrangement, and Disney declined.
Leading up to this, there were supposedly still two solo Spider-Man outings, with actor Tom Holland reprising his role and Spider-Man: Far From Home director Jon Watts returning to the chair. As of now, those projects are still in Sony’s plans and, assuming the present reporting to be true and the two media giants are at an impasse with these negotiations, the films will also be solely in Sony’s hands. Should Disney CEO Bob Iger and the head honchos at Sony remain stalemated here and not return to the negotiating table, Far From Home will be the last we see of the wall-crawler in the MCU. Similarly, Sony’s future Spidey films will be unable to make any mention of the Avengers or any outings the character has shared with the Marvel superteam. Sony is clearly showing a boost of confidence from last year’s Venom earning over $800 million on the global stage, followed by the success of Spider-Man: Far From Home and its crowning as Sony’s highest-grossing film at $1.109 billion at the worldwide box office. That aside, and regardless of whatever you may want to say about the MCU, there are still those who question whether Sony can continue this trend at the box office with their Spider-Verse films.
Sony had held the screen rights to Spider-Man solo films from jump street, with the very first entry in the Sam Raimi trilogy in 2002, followed by The Amazing Spider-Man movies starring Andrew Garfield in the web-slinging role. And while those films presented themselves as the truest to the source material, and both surpassed the $700 million mark globally, they are looked at divisively and were scrapped with the plans of bringing Spidey into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At this point, Sony can really do whatever they want with the property (although Disney still retains all merchandising rights to the character). If they decided to go back to the drawing board entirely with a new team, they could. Should they choose to keep the formula that’s working (sans Kevin Feige’s involvement), then they can do that too. Or even still, they could dust off prior plans with Andrew Garfield’s character (I wouldn’t mind them making Spider-Man Amazing again).
Whatever the decision, it hinges on whether or not Disney and Sony return to negotiations, or call it done. I would bet folding money on a dramatic initial stock change one way or the other, and both companies would do well to consider that. I’ve personally never been a fan of Holland’s version of the character, but there’s no denying what’s making money right now, and that’s his presence in the MCU. With regards to that, reports in July suggested that Spider-Man characters may return to being solely in Sony’s control if Far From Home failed to reached the $1 billion milestone marker at the global box office. Richard Rushfield had this to say in the same Ankler newsletter:
“The original Sony/Marvel/Spidey deal to co-produce these movies stipulated that if this Spidey cleared a billion, Marvel would get to oversee a third. If it hadn’t, full control would have reverted back to Sony, which raised the specter that America’s Most Beloved Entertainment Executive would look to cash in/out every way possible, as well as grab complete unexpurgated credit for the victory and thrown superhero canon to the wind. (Not something he was ever a fan of in the first place). It was feared he would have tossed Spidey and Venom together for a quickie mash-up that very potentially could’ve sunk both.”
What are your thoughts on this development? Will the MCU suffer from the loss of what has essentially been Marvel’s flagship hero for decades? It was successful before his addition into the films; however, he’s clearly been built up to replace older heroes as the new face of the cinematic universe. On the other hand, could this alteration end up working largely in Sony’s favor and result in an increase in high-grossing superhero films for the media giant?