Fans rejoiced in 2015 when it was announced that Spider-Man would be returning home (in a way) by entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe after a deal was struck between Marvel Studios and Sony. The resulting partnership was a huge success over the next four years. Both solo films featuring the web-slinger earned rave reviews and box office glory. He was similarly well-received when he appeared in crossover events like Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.
However, tragedy struck when it was announced that talks between Marvel and Sony had broken down and that Tom Holland‘s Spidey would be leaving the MCU. Thankfully, both sides managed to work out their differences and a third Spider-Man film was confirmed to be in development shortly thereafter.
The original deal between the two studios allowed for Spider-Man to appear in five films, with two of them being solo films. That deal ended with Spider-Man: Far From Home. A new deal was reached in late 2019 that allowed for a third solo film and one “guest appearance” in another MCU production. Money-wise, sources state that Disney will now receive 25 percent of the profits from Spider-Man: No Way Home in exchange for paying a quarter of the production costs.
We don’t know what the future holds for Holland’s iteration of the web-head, but I’d love to see him stay in the MCU. There is so much untapped potential with the character and hundreds of stories yet to be told on screen. If Spider-Man does stick around in the MCU then a new deal will need to be drawn up.
Therefore, I’ve decided to offer my services to Marvel and Sony and present them with a deal that I think will benefit both parties. Here are the terms of my Sony/Marvel Spider-Man deal.
It’s simple: Marvel Studios gets full creative control for all characters Sony has the film rights to. Yes, that would include Venom and Morbius. It’s a bit unclear what the current terms of the Sony/Marvel deal is regarding creative control of Spider-Man films. Marvel Studios is involved in all aspects of the solo films, but how much say does Sony have when it comes to which characters are allowed to appear. Do they veto certain characters if they think, as is the case with Morbius and Venom, they have solo film potential?
This new deal would have Sony cede almost all creative control to Marvel. The two studios would work together on which characters would appear in each film, but storylines and the characters’ futures would be determined solely by Marvel. In exchange, Marvel Studios would also produce any upcoming Marvel film. That means films like Venom and Morbius would fall under Marvel’s control. Sony would just be the distributor.
Marvel Studios, and the MCU, has reached a point where they can release four new films a year. In this new deal, one of those four films would be distributed by Sony. It could be a solo film featuring Spider-Man or Venom, or it could focus on a lesser known character like Jackpot or Silk.
Part of the original Spider-Man deal between the two studios seemed to imply that a new Spider-Man film had to come out every two years. It’s why Spider-Man: No Way Home is still set for later this year while other MCU releases have been delayed further away from their original date.
This might be the most controversial part of my deal for readers. Are there really enough Spider-Man characters to warrant one Sony film a year? I think so. Spider-Woman, Spider-Man, Venom, Morbius, Jackpot, Silk, and Nightwatch are just a few characters that could headline their own solo feature. But with Marvel Studios in full creative control, the Sony films that were previously produced without involvement from Marvel Studios will no longer have to rely on just featuring characters that Sony owned. The doors would be wide open now.
This new deal would remove any restriction on crossovers. Spider-Man and whoever else Sony owns would be free to appear in any MCU film regardless of who is releasing it. The same would work for Marvel-owned characters appearing in Sony productions. A Spider-Woman film could heavily focus on S.W.O.R.D. as much as Spider-Woman. Jackpot could become a part of Heroes for Hire.
Marvel Studios knows how to weave characters together without them seeming forced or out of place. As long as the amount of the times Sony-owned characters crossover to other MCU films is reciprocated, there should be no issue in allowing the MCU to grow without restraints.
Box Office & Streaming
Alright, these are the terms that Disney and Sony probably care the most amount. How much money are we spending and what are we getting out of it in the long haul?
The way I see it, Disney/Marvel Studios would continue paying a quarter of the production costs for each Sony/Marvel movie. However, in terms of box office revenue, Disney would only receive 5% of net profits. So if Disney forked over $50 million on a $200 million Spider-Man 4 and the film ended up grossing $800 million, Disney would receive its $50 million that it put into the film plus $30 million. Sony would receive the remaining $570 million (please note, I’m ignoring marketing and additional costs for the sake of simplicity).
If you think that Disney is getting the short end of the stick, remember that Disney owns the Spider-Man merchandising rights. They only pay Sony an annual royalty of $30 million. Every new Spider-Man adjacent film would come with a new wave of merchandise and increased profit streams. But that’s not all Disney would receive from this new deal.
I see Sony receiving the more traditional means of profit from this deal. The studio gets a 95% of the box office take and any physical media sales. In exchange, Disney would get exclusive streaming rights to every Sony/Marvel film that is released. Anyone with a Disney+ account knows that Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home are not on the streaming service. That would change with this new deal. All Sony/Marvel Studios films would make Disney+ its exclusive streaming home. It would make the entirety of the MCU (sans The Incredible Hulk) available in one place for fans to enjoy. Disney has its eye on making streaming a major part of its future, so I could see them exchanging box office profits for streaming exclusives quite easily. I could also see another separate deal that would allow for Disney+ to become the streaming home for all previous non-MCU Sony/Marvel films (Ghost Rider, Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man) too.
No matter what happens in the future between Marvel Studios and Sony, Spider-Man will continue to grace movie theaters big and small. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that a new, more permanent deal will eventually be ironed out that will allow Tom Holland’s Spidey to interact with his Marvel friends for many years to come.
Spider-Man: No Way Home hits theaters December 17, 2021.