One hallmark of the Spider-Man character in the comics is that Peter Parker is always strapped for cash. However, new details about the Sony and Marvel Spider-Man contract shed light on what we can expect from the two studios in the future. Specifically, as reported by The Ankler, Spider-Man: Far From Home must earn no less than one billion dollars for Sony. The details of the unprecedented arrangement are not public but, reporter Richard Rushfield clear things up about the Sony and Marvel Spider-Man contract. These new details also reveal something interesting about how both studios felt about their most popular character after the Andrew Garfield-led reboot failed. Ultimately, the deal seems born from both studios hedging their bets about the bankability of the Spider-Man character. Marvel didn’t want to pay for the full rights, and Sony didn’t want to cede control to Feige and company.
Five or Six Movies in the Sony and Marvel Spider-Man Contract?
In the aftermath of the initial announcement of the Sony and Marvel Spider-Man contract, the general consensus seemed to be that the deal encompassed five films split between the two studios. However, later the next year, Tom Holland told The Hollywood Reporter that he signed on for six films, three of which were solo efforts. While it’s certain the young actor knew the particulars of his deal, confusion about the specifics remained. Finally, deep in a profile about former Sony Studios executive Amy Pascal, she seemingly confirmed that the Sony and Marvel Spider-Man contract covered six movies. So, who knows where the five-movie figure came from? It’s possible that it was a purposeful misdirect to help sell the idea that Spidey really did die in Infinity War or just a miscommunication. Or, it’s because that sixth movie isn’t a done deal.
Still, this means that Spider-Man’s appearances in the larger MCU are over. Tom Holland’s version of the character has only one more solo film. Of course, all this changes if the Sony and Marvel Spider-Man contract is renewed or extended. The way it works currently is that Marvel Studios makes all of the money for their ensemble films in which Spidey appears. They don’t pay Sony anything for using the character, even though Sony still has the rights to it. However, this means that the money for the solo films, all of which feature other MCU stars, goes to Sony. Yet, the latest revelations suggest that Sony included a box office benchmark for the second solo film. This detail, coupled with the fact that the deep-pocketed Disney didn’t just want to buy the rights back outright, suggests that both studios wondered if fans weren’t suffering from Spider-fatigue.
Spider-Man: Sony’s Billion Dollar Baby
As mentioned in our Spider-Man: Far From Home review, Sony is in a much different place with their franchise than in 2015. Both Into the Spider-Verse and Venom scoring high praise and big box offices. They are likely a little more comfortable with their ability to produce movies without Marvel Studios’ input. And, as Rushfield points out, seven of the top eight openings for Sony studios are Spider-films (including Venom). Still, none of their films ever hit a billion. So, this clause in the Sony and Marvel Spider-Man contract is a win-win for Sony. If the film hits that billion-dollar benchmark they get over that barrier. If it didn’t, they still made boatloads of money and end up with full control over the third Spider-Man film, which they could rope into their ongoing Marvel universe featuring Venom and, soon, Jared Leto’s take on Morbius the vampire.
Of course, all this appears to be moot. In just its second week in theaters, Spider-Man: Far From Home is closing in on $700 million worldwide. Thus it has seven weeks to make the $300 million needed to meet the Sony and Marvel Spider-Man contract requirement. Even if it doesn’t cross the finish line, Spider-Man: Far From Home will certainly be the highest-grossing Spider-film. Sony would be foolish to take the character out of the MCU. Marvel Studios seems to be setting Spidey up to fill the shoes left by Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark. Tom Holland also seems to keen to keep playing the character he’s loved since childhood, saying he’d play Spidey until he could no longer walk. Extending the deal means that Sony can have their Spider-cake and eat it, too.
Update: Spidey Hit a Billion!
Well, any fans worried about Spidey’s continued presence in the MCU can breath an elemental sigh of relief. On Thursday, July 25, the film’s combined box office totals from both in the U.S. and overseas crossed this important benchmark. ” Its domestic tally through the day is a projected $333 million, while it has grossed $672 million overseas for a total $1.005 billion,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. This is the first Spider-Man film to earn more than a billion dollars. It is only the second Sony film to do so, the other being the James Bond sequel Skyfall.
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Featured image via Sony Studios
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.