Spider-Man: Far From Home proved to be the single most successful Sony film ever released. But the overall success of the movie has seemingly led to the end of the Sony/Disney crossover deal that allowed the teen hero to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the first place. The timing couldn't be worse, with Disney set to reveal more about the future of its properties (including Marvel) at D23. The collapse of the Sony/Disney deal could make things more than a bit awkward for the studio.
Details are still unclear, but the broad strokes of the falling out between Sony and Disney seem to come down to one major factor: money. As part of its original arrangement to bring Spider-Man into the MCU, Disney forfeited almost all box office revenue from Spider-Man stand-alone films. While Disney retained the merchandising rights to the character, this allowed Sony to profit greatly from the success of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home. This was a boon for both studios. The MCU benefited from making Spider-Man into a potential inheritor of Iron Man's role as the heart of the universe, while Sony raked in the initial wave of box-office cash.
With the Spider-Man contract up for discussion after Far From Home, Disney reportedly pushed to change the specifics of the deal. The studio tried to ensure it would receive a 50/50 split of any future box office revenue. Sony pushed back, instead preferring to maintain the current arrangement. Talks broke down before it was announced that Spider-Man would no longer appear in the MCU. Instead, if Tom Holland were to appear in another Spider-Man movie, it would be most likely be set closer to Sony's brewing Spider-Verse of films and shows.
Why That's Awkward
It's a situation not too unsimilar to the firing of James Gunn shortly before San Diego Comic-Con last year. Public outcry over the dispute carried throughout that convention. It was only made worse by the sudden cancellation of a panel appearance by Gunn himself. However, Disney may be able to dodge at least some of that fallout at D23. While there do seem to be plans for a third Spider-Man film, no concrete announcements have been made.
There were likely no major announcements poised for Spider-Man at D23, so Spider-Man doesn't have to be front and center. Although his disappearance will still be noticeable, especially after he starred in the third MCU film of the year to earn over $1 billion. If pressed on the subject, Disney can at least bring up that negotiations between Sony and Marvel are reportedly still ongoing. It's entirely possible the two studios work out their differences so Spider-Man can return to the MCU.
Instead, Disney will have to rely on the rest of its upcoming Marvel content to (at least temporarily) distract from the controversy. Disney is set to showcase many of the projects previously announced to be coming from Marvel, including a slew of Disney+ shows. But complicating that approach, Sony released a statement claiming that the breakdown of the deal can be blamed on Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and his busy workload overseeing the rest of the MCU. It puts Disney in a difficult position, where promoting too many different projects could come across as proof of that concern. It's going to be difficult for Disney to spin this as anything less than a loss, especially with all eyes on it for D23.