Evaluating the latest Disney-Sony Negotiations
Several weeks ago, news broke that Tom Holland’s beloved Spider-Man would no longer be part of the Marvel Cinematic University. Fans went crazy. Millions took to twitter, posting memes and gifs to make their displeasure known. The #SaveSpidey trended on Twitter for days. Even some of Holland’s fellow Avengers, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, made statements asking the studios to return Spidey to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jeremy Renner, who plays Hawkeye in the films, put it simply on Twitter: “Hey @sonypictures we want Spider-Man back”.
— Jeremy Renner (@Renner4Real) August 21, 2019
This was an almost baffling development, and many fans were left wondering how exactly we got to this point. The story of Spider-Man in the MCU begins in 2014 with Sony studios and a box office flop. Sony Pictures, the longtime owner of the Spider-Man film rights, rolled out The Amazing Spiderman 2 in 2014, starring Andrew Garfield. The film was generally panned by critics (52% Rotten Tomatoes) and pulled off franchise-low box office numbers. The poor performance forced Sony to abandon their plans of building a cinematic universe centered around the web-slinging highschool hero. Instead, the smaller studio went to the negotiating table with Disney’s ultra-successful Marvel Studios.
After much discussion, Sony agreed to license Spidey to Disney and finance 100% of the cost for future Spider-Man movies. In return Disney’s creative team would write, cast, and direct the films, and be permitted to incorporate the latest Spidey into future Marvel Cinematic Universe Films. Sony stood to receive 100% of the movie’s profits, while Disney took home 100% of the merchandise profits. Since then, Spiderman launched a new trilogy, appeared in multiple Avengers movies, and garnered quite the devoted fan base. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, a loveable, awkward high school boy, stole hearts as Tom Holland himself drew fans into the Marvel franchise, with only a few major spoilers along the way. After 5 Spider-Man outings, 2 standalone adventures, and millions of dollars, the two studios sat down at the negotiating table for a second time this past August.
Disney believed that the value they had added to the character during the past four years warranted 50% of the box office revenues, but insisted that Sony would continue to foot the bill. Sony refused, failing to see any benefit in fronting the cost while losing profits. Deadlocked in negotiation, Sony left the table and took Spider-Man, and his future in the MCU, with them.
After weeks of backlash from stars and betrayed fans, Tom Holland contacted Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger. As Iger tells it, Tom Holland pleaded with the CEO to bring Spider-Man back into the MCU. The latest installment, Spider-Man: Far From Home, had left our hero at the edge of claiming the mantle of Iron Man, and it was clear that a MCU without Spider-Man would suffer. Bob Iger was moved by the actor’s call and re-entered negotiations with Sony to complete the deal.
Now Disney will pay for 25% of future film costs and take home 25% of the box office revenue and 100% of the merchandise money. Disney can rest easy, knowing that Peter Parker will continue to swing into their mega-franchise, but it seems to me that the real winners here are the fans. After (Editor’s Note: SPOILER ALERT) losing Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow this year, it’s nice to know we’ll have our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man for years to come.
Alex Arroyo is a junior studying marketing who can be found hiking the backtrails of the Dakotas, searching for the perfect Oysters Rockefeller in New Orleans, or at email@example.com