The future of the "Spider-Man" franchise is unclear as Sony and Disney's Marvel failed to come to an agreement on how to split revenue.
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News of the studio break-up, from the Hollywood Reporter, came after "Spider-Man: Far from Home" became Sony Pictures’ highest-grossing release of all time at $1.109 billion. Tensions first rose when Disney requested a higher stake in the upcoming Spider-Man movies and merchandise, while Sony favored an extension of the existing agreement, in which Marvel current receives 5% of first-dollar gross and merchandising revenue.
Tom Holland's Spider-Man must now likely leave the Marvel Cinematic Universe, just as "Far from Home" appeared to open a new major storyline after "Avengers: Endgame."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony film studio head Tom Rothman and Marvel president Kevin Feige have been negotiating for months to no avail, ultimately resulting in the partnership’s dissolution and Feige’s removal from any producing role on Sony ‘Spider-Man’ films.
In a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Sony Pictures is exasperated and “disappointed” that Marvel president Kevin Feige will no longer be a lead producer on franchise, transferring onus of the matter to Disney.
“We hope this might change in the future, but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him – including all their newly added Marvel properties – do not allow time for him to work on IP they do not own,” the statement read. “Kevin is terrific and we are grateful for his help and guidance and appreciate the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue.”
Superhero mythology fans expressed outrage at the news, as #savespiderman trended globally.
The Sony-Marvel Spider-Man captivated audiences’ hearts in 2016 with "Captain America: Civil War," after a ground-breaking 2015 deal between the studios that allowed the character to appear in Marvel ensemble films and co-productions of the Spider-man movies, like "Spider-Man: Homecoming," which grossed $880.2 million. Sony sought MCU magic after Andrew Garfield’s 2014 Spider-Man underwhelmed at the box office.
Sony acquired film rights to Spider-Man in 1999, while Marvel licked its wounds from bankruptcy and had licensed many of its characters to film studios. Marvel has since regained its mojo, gaining back film rights back to most of its characters, with Spider-Man as the only popular outlier.
Sony and Marvel tip-toe around each other with the delicate legal rights to many of the superhero characters even within the franchises, including Venom and Morbius, who Jared Leto is set to play.
Despite the squabble, Sony announced Monday that it will re-release the successful "Far From Home" on Aug. 29 with four minutes of additional footage.