Disney and Spider-Man Part Ways

Marvel fans are in an uproar. In August 2019, it was reported that Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures could not reach a new agreement regarding future Spider-Man films. Sony bought the film rights for the Spider-Man character in 1999, and in 2015 Sony Pictures signed a deal with Disney’s Marvel Studios allowing Sony to keep the film rights to Spider-Man while Marvel brought Spider-Man into the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) as an Avenger. Sony and Disney worked together on two Spider-Man films, and both were produced by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. Spider-Man also appeared in three MCU films. Their most recent movie, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” became Sony’s highest grossing to date, earning over $1.1 billion.

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said that the company no longer has any involvement in future Spider-Man films. Disney had hoped that future Spider-Man films would have a "50/50 co-financing arrangement between the studios,” with the possibility to extend that deal to other Spider-Man related films and appearances. Sony rejected that 50/50 deal and did not give a counter offer; instead, Sony hoped to keep the terms of the previous agreement, where Disney would receive only 5% of a Spider-Man film's revenue. Disney refused.

According to Hollywood Reporter, without a new agreement, this will be the end of Tom Holland's Spider-Man as an Avenger in the Marvel Universe. It was also reported that there is believed to be two additional Spider-Man films in development now, with the hope of having Holland and director Jon Watts — who was responsible for “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Far From Home” return for both movies. However, Marvel is not set to be a part of these projects and in these films there can be no reference to the Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, or any Marvel character or storyline. Marvel fans are outraged by Sony’s unwillingness to negotiate and that this now means separating Spider-Man from his Avenger family and future Marvel storylines.

Sony Pictures said the media has "mischaracterized" recent discussions about Kevin Feige's involvement in the Spider-Man franchise, and expressed disappointment over Disney's decision to not continue receiving merely 5%. They also confirmed that Feige would no longer be the lead producer on the next live-action Spider-Man film.

“We have some pretty terrific people of our own,” said Sony chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra. “Kevin (Feige) didn’t do all the work.”

Speaking at the 2019 D23 Expo, Feige said that the deal with Sony was always difficult and he knew it would be short-lived.

“We got to make five films within the MCU with Spider-Man: two standalone films and three with the Avengers,” said Feige 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, and we told the story we wanted to tell, and I’ll always be thankful for that.”

Tom Holland added that while the future of Spider-Man would be different outside of the MCU, he would continue to play Spider-Man. Holland also alluded to the Spider-Man news while he was on stage at D23 Expo to reveal new footage from his upcoming Pixar movie, “Onward.”

“Basically, we’ve made five great movies,” said Holland to Entertainment Weekly backstage at the D23 Expo.. “It’s been five amazing years. I’ve had the time of my life. Who knows what the future holds? But all I know is that I’m going to continue playing Spider-Man and having the time of my life. It’s going to be so fun, however we choose to do it. The future for Spider-Man will be different, but it will be equally as awesome and amazing, and we’ll find new ways to make it even cooler.”

The Spider-Man franchise is currently Sony’s most valuable, and “Spider-Man: Far From Home” became the studio’s highest grossing movie of all time. Sony still holds the movie rights to Spider-Man and to connected comics characters. While as of now the door is said to be closed on Disney and Sony negotiating a new deal, there have been hints at a resolution in the far future, including CEO Vinciquerra claiming “it’s a long life” when asked about the split. The studios have until mid-2020 to strike a deal, so Spider-Man’s fate isn’t sealed yet.