Oh boy, this is really getting out of hand. A couple of days ago, the internet blew up to pieces when news broke that Disney and Sony had reached a deadlock on their latest negotiations over the use of Spider-Man in big-screen feature films. As a result, Kevin Feige would no longer serve as the creative lead on solo Spider-Man movies (confirmed) and Spider-Man would no longer be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (unanimously speculated based on reports).
Naturally, this led to the creation of another petition, which has now garnered close to a 100 000 signatures. The Change.org petition titled ‘Keep Spider-Man with Disney and the MCU’ comes with the following description:
“After the news today that Sony walked away from their deal with Disney, I cannot in good faith stand by while Spider-man and his fans around the world become collateral damage. Spider-man in the MCU has brought some of the best moments in modern cinema history. SONY you must let go of this property or renegotiate with Disney to keep all of the fans happy.
Please join me in standing against Sony who I’ll be boycotting until this matter is properly resolved. Share this petition and let’s make our voices heard!”
This, of course, is in addition to the fans angrily voicing their opinions on Social Media. The creator of the petition, Nate Phillips who penned that description is clearly coming from a place of passion for the web-slinger. As a huge fan of the Spider-Man character and a bigger fan of Tom Holland’s rendition as seen in the MCU, I too was incredibly disheartened when I heard the news.
So, I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t be wasting your time crying about Spider-Man when there are more pressing issues out there like poverty in Africa, the burning of Amazon rainforests or Zakir Naik. It would be silly for someone who spends 90% of his day reading and writing about movies to say that. (I do genuinely believe that change.org petitions should be used for ‘real-world issues’. Venting on social media is more than fine.) I digress.
However, if we’re going to vent our frustrations, it should be at the right party. A lot of people are quick to villainise Sony because we’re just looking at things from a fan enjoyment perspective. “We want Spidey in the MCU, whatever it takes!!!” But despite the brilliant extravaganzas Marvel Studios has churned out over the years, despite our love for Spider-Man, I think it’s absolutely essential we look at the facts and understand what’s really going on.
- Many, many years ago, Marvel Studios sold the rights to Spider-Man (films) to Sony as the studio was going through financial difficulties. Sony didn’t steal the rights. They bought it, fair and square.
- In 2015, after The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s box office returns ($US 708 million) failed to hit the mark, Sony decided “hey, you know what? Let’s collaborate with Disney/Marvel Studios.” TL;DR version of the 5-year deal:
- Sony still owns the film rights to the character.
- Spider-Man can be a part of the MCU, but Sony makes no money from the character’s appearances in these movies (i.e. Civil War, Infinity War, Endgame).
- When it comes to the solo movies (i.e. Homecoming, Far From Home), Sony finances them 100%, while Marvel Studios have the creative lead.
- Marvel Studios makes 5% from the solo movies.
- Now that the 5-year deal is nearing its end and it’s time to renegotiate, this happened
- Disney: Yo homie! Screw 5%. I want 50% of the profits from future solo movies. (Of course, this means that Disney would also bear 50% of the burden as far as financing these films goes.)
- Sony: Wait, what? 50% is too much bro. That’s not fair.
- Disney: Well then, screw you! We aren’t giving you our creative juices anymore. No more Kevin Feige for you sir!
- Sony: Fine. We’ll figure it out ourselves.
*Just to be clear, the numbers are real, the dialogue is of course written for comedic purposes. Don’t sue me Disney. #HailMickey
Some of you might be thinking, Sony should just agree to the 50% deal. But should they really, though? Let’s look at the facts. (I’m going to set aside Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as it’s an animated film.)
Prior to Spider-Man: Far From Home, all the Spidey movies (irrespective of Marvel Studios’ involvement) grossed in between $US 709 million – $US 890 million at the global box office. In fact, Spider-Man: Homecoming ($US 880 million), in which Marvel Studios had the creative lead, made $US 10 million less than Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 ($US 890 million), which hit cinemas in 2007.
If we’re looking at movies that were released over the past couple of years alone, Venom which had no involvement from Kevin Feige or Marvel Studios grossed $US 856 million at the global box office. Spider-Man: Far From Home, which is tied to the MCU and is creatively led by Marvel Studios made $US 1.1 billion — the first Spidey solo film to gross more than $US 1 billion and Sony’s highest-grossing movie of all time.
Marvel Studios definitely deserves props for both of those accomplishments. But Spider-Man: Far From Home made only 24-28% more at the box office than Venom and Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 (sans inflation). It also only made 0.19% more than Sony’s previous record holder, Skyfall.
What about these numbers indicate that Disney now deserves 50%? What about these numbers tell us that Sony should just tug their tails between their legs and bow down to Disney’s request? Disney, a company that has already acquired another major studio, owns four out of five movies that have grossed $US 2 billion and 25 out of 43 movies that have grossed $US 1 billion is telling a smaller studio to give it 50% of its box office profits. So, tell me… who’s the real villain?