The Overly-Complicated Disney/Sony Spider-Man Deal, Finally Explained After a Long Period of Waiting
Thank us after you read the article.
We're also including a bulleted list of the topics we're covering, so you don't get lost in the article.
- How he joined the MCU in the first place
- Why did he leave?
- How is he back?
- Could Disney just BUY Spider-Man?
How he joined the MCU in the first place
Imagine the long-forgotten year of 2015. It was the year that Zach Snyder had pushed back the release date of Batman Vs Superman, and was also the year right after the year where Sony officially destroyed the hopes and dreams of Spider-Man fans (and those of Peter/Gwen fanfiction authors) with The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Now imagine Marvel Studios during this year. It was a massively successful, Disney-owned movie studio with 8 movies under its belt, 10 if you’re counting The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2, but uh… we don’t talk about those. Surely, Sony Pictures would want to share some of the success, right?
Even though the MCU was reveling in the aftermath of a good box office run, it didn’t feel right… It didn’t feel… so good. It wanted more.
Bob Iger - “Hey Kevin, the Avengers is a cash cow, right?”
Kevin Feige - “Yeah, Bob?”
Bob - “Isn’t Spider-Man like the biggest freaking cash cow anywhere?”
Kevin - “Yep”
Bob - “What we just...”
Kevin - “What?”
Bob - “Just…” *eloquently and vaguely meshes hands together*
Kevin - *Gets off the couch and drops his jaw to the floor* “Duuuuuuuuddeee”
We don’t know how business works.
Marvel and Sony put together a deal where Sony could enjoy the benefits and cash of a good Spider-Man movie (the likes of which they hadn’t seen since 2004’s Spider-Man 2) while Disney happily chucks Spidey into a world full of new heroes and free of any more Uncle Ben deaths. A deal where everybody wins! (probably)
As long as Sony gets all the money - *burp*
And that’s where the famous “Underoos!” moment in Captain America: Civil War came from.
Why Did He Leave?
So, Sony and Disney had worked out a deal where Sony would get all the box office revenue from the Spider-Man solo films in the MCU (Marvel got 5% on opening day), however, Sony had to finance the movies as well. Meanwhile, Marvel and Disney would get 100% of the merchandise revenue.
They said that the two studios would now “together collaborate on a new creative direction for the web-slinger” and also stating that “Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films.”
Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO had this to say: "Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s great characters, beloved around the world. We’re thrilled to work with Sony Pictures to bring the iconic web-slinger into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which opens up fantastic new opportunities for storytelling and franchise building.”
So that was great! They cast a talkative Brit named Tom Holland, who was the subject of oh-so-many memes on the internet.
The MCU’s Spider-Man, in our opinion, was the best Spidey to date. Tobey Macguire had the best Peter Parker, but his Spider-Man was a little flat. Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man was hilarious, as he should be, but it's hard to believe his character’s a nerd without friends when the actor contends for the title of ‘Sexiest Man Alive’. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man combines the best of both worlds. He’s nerdy, while at the same time being a laugh-out-loud not remotely cute Spider-Man... I don’t have a crush on Tom Holland. You have a crush on Tom Holland.
Tom Holland’s Spidey appeared in Captain America: Civil War, he was extremely well-received by audiences across the globe. In fact, when he showed up at the end of the Civil War trailer, we personally jumped up and down and ran around our houses while screaming for 5 minutes straight.
The MCU Spidey appeared in 4 more movies, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home. Every single film was a box office smash. Homecoming was arguably one of the funniest MCU films, raking in roughly $880 million. Infinity War was great- and depressing, Far From Home was hilarious and funny, and Endgame was oh-my-god-so-freaking-depressing.
Why Tony-san, WHY?!?!?!
I don’t CARE!!!! I don’t WANT Cap to be happy!
WHO CARES IF CLINT HAS A FAMILY!!!... I don’t have a crush on Scarlett Johansson, You have a crush on Scarlett Johansson.
I’m still hurting from the Endgame wounds.
Because these movies were so frickin’ good, Marvel understandably wanted a bit more of the sweet sweet dough their version of Spider-Man was raking in, because, with the first deal, Marvel was only getting 5% of opening day revenue. So they went to Sony to start negotiating terms.
Now, it’s unknown how much money Disney was asking for, as some sources say 25% of revenues and some say 50%, but we know it was somewhere between those two.
However, Sony didn’t like this, as they wanted to go back to the original deal where they make the vast majority of the profits from the films, and as so, with Disney asking for more, and Sony denying it, Sony did the unthinkable.
They pulled Spidey from the MCU.
How is he back?
This may seem like a dark time for us MCU fans, but worry not! As Spidey has returned to the MCU. But how?
You can thank Tom Holland for this, folks! Yeah, turns out Mr. Frog-in-his-mouth called Bob Iger and begged him for Spidey to remain in the MCU, as Iger recounted from a Jimmy Kimmel Interview:
Bob Iger - “After D23 (a Disney fan convention), Tom reached out to folks who worked for me and said, ‘could I please have Bob’s email address or phone number.’ Of course, I’m very protected so they were very careful and I said, ‘sure, have him contact me.’ And he did, we spoke and he basically made a… he cried on the phone.”
Jimmy Kimmel - “Did he really?”
Bob Iger - “No, [laughs]. I felt for him and it was clear that the fans wanted all this to happen. So, after I got off the phone with him I made a couple of phone calls to our team at Disney Studios and then I decided to call the head of Sony. And I said, ‘we got to figure out a way to get this done, for Tom and for the fans. And we did.”
After that, Iger called up the head of Sony to negotiate terms. After what was probably a very long meeting, BAM! We have Spidey back in the MCU again.
In this new deal, which will last for two more films (presumably Spider-Man 3 and a team-up film), Disney and Marvel will see 25% of the box office revenue, and would also have to finance these movies while retaining their share of 100% of merchandise revenue.
So that’s what happened over the last month, folks! Basically two companies fought over who got to keep their character, and by the end, got together again due to a bunch of negotiation, and devoted protesting by the fans.
Stay in it for the kids, parents.
Could Disney just BUY Spider-Man??
Alright, We're saying this now just to get it out of our system; We want Disney to just buy Spider-Man from Sony.
"You horrible person!"
What? We're actually, two people, so...
"Disney is a monopoly!"
Yeah, we get it-
"It owns 27% of the film industry!"
Ok, ok, jeez-
"I bet Disney bought you too!"
"Yeah, how does it feel? Being Disney-bots with no empathy for the little guy?"
SHUT UP! OK? LET US EXPLAIN!
We understand, Disney owns everything. Because of the Fox acquisition, Disney will now own 27% of the entire film industry. That's really, really big. They now own the X-Men, Star Wars, Avatar, and all of Pixar, and their own movies to boot(e.g Beauty and the Beast, Zootopia, etc). It feels like too much power in the hands of one company.
But Sony sucks.
Disney, though a giant, makes pretty good movies. They consistently outputted outstanding films through the MCU. Their animated movies tend to be pretty great. They haven't completely ruined Pixar(Pixar more than redeemed Cars 2 with Cars 3 and Coco). DIsney+(their upcoming streaming service) seems like a really good bang for your buck. The only thing they've messed up in any way is the Star Wars franchise, and judging by George Lucas's explanation of his freaky early drafts, We're kind of glad that Disney didn't use his storyline. And the early looks of The Mandalorian looks really cool.
The remakes? We get that they're getting annoying, but even they aren't horrible. Aladdin was alright, and 2016's The Jungle Book was actually good
But Sony just sucks.
They're responsible for ruining Spider-Man, ruining Ghostbusters. Venom was... weird. And no, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse does not redeem six consecutive years of The Smurfs, Men In Black: International, Amazing Spider-Man 2, and god forbid The Emoji Movie.
Sony keeps trying to make its own Spider universe, but it just won't work; Venom saw to that. They've been teasing the Sinister Six for the past 6 years. It was scheduled for release in 2016. It's been three years since and there hasn't even been a confirmed script.
Sony has been trying to create their own Spider Universe for a seriously long time now, but that's always been in development hell. They keep teasing and canceling their own plans for the new Spider-Man movie.
The result? Venom. They tried, they really did, but a film that's been trying to get itself released for 8 years can't possibly be a great movie.
So in a better world, Disney would own Spidey and introduce him to the rest of the Marvel Universe. They could co-develop the X-Men universe with him in it. There are so many things they could do without Sony looking over their shoulders and threatening them to remove Spider-Man!
Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world. We co-exist with The Emoji Movie.
See, Sony doesn't have to give Spider-Man to Disney. They know Disney really really wants Spidey in the MCU, so they have the leverage. Whenever Disney asks for more, they could simply say "Screw you", remove Spidey from Disney's grasp, and go back to trying to make their own universe.
Sony also can't feasibly give up Spider-Man. The company's not exactly in the best shape now. Spider-Man is a cash cow, and they need him in order to develop the universe that they've spent so much time and money on.
This is a good example of a studio trying to make their own cinematic universe while caring about the movie itself:
This is not :
For those of you who say that Disney doesn't care what the fans want, we would like to point out this scene:
And for those of you who say that Disney can't take credit for Marvel as it's a subsidiary that acts mostly independent, you can no more blame Disney for the disaster that was Cars 2, saying that Pixar is a mostly independently operating subsidiary.
Keep in mind, we're not Disney fanboys, we just think that Sony is simply... the worst.
Moving on, turns out what we wanted could come to fruition. On October 09, Mikey Sutton leaked news saying that Disney plans to straight-up buy Spidey from Sony's grasp. This is what he exactly had to say: "While rumors have circulated before the Sony-Disney dispute of such a purchase, it was mere speculation, especially the erroneous high number that was quoted. What I’m hearing is that Disney is looking to offer in the range of $4 to $5 billion for Spider-Man. But now the questions will be asked."
While Sutton is mostly reliable and has mostly been correct about things in the past, it is definitely worth noting that he later notes that he's only hearing one side of the story; the Disney side.
The most likely result will be Disney and Sony continuing to co-produce and share custody of Spidey. Sony needs him wwwaaaaayyy more than Disney does.
Another reason why such an acquisition is unlikely to happen?
Disney bought Marvel for $4.24 billion. For Disney to buy one character for the same price would be really unusual. Sure, Disney got an insanely good bargain at the time, but that was because they were sitting on a trove full of characters that no one had made movies of before. Spidey has already been making tons and tons of money for Sony already, so it's not impossible for Sony to ask for more than what Disney paid for Marvel. On Disney's side, it wouldn't be financially feasible to pay more for one character than they did for the entire Marvel Universe and what they paid for the whole of Lucasfilm($4.05 billion).
Think about it, Spider-Man: Far From Home made approximately $1.2 billion in the box office. The theaters get approximately 25% of a movie ticket, so that means the studio gets $900 million of that. It cost $160 million to produce it, leaving a profit of $740 million. It would take 6 or 7 Far From Home s to make back the initial investment. Assuming a Spider-Man film comes exactly every two years, that would mean Disney would have wait 12 to 14 years just to get their money back, assuming every single one is just as successful as Far From Home.
In other words, because life sucks, what we want can't possibly happen for all sorts of dumb reasons we can't do anything about.