Since Tom Holland's debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures' partnership has been very fruitful financially, with Spider-Man's solo films doing great at the box office. Many attributed this success to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and what they saw as much-needed course correction for the wall-crawler, which is why there was such a major backlash when Spider-Man's time in the MCU seemed over after negotiations broke down between the two studios over rights and finances surrounding the character.
However, as welcomed a decision as it is for the studios to be collaborating once more on the web-head's future, we must consider the notion that Sony caving into Marvel's demands is indeed bad for business.
Initially, the breakdown in the partnership reportedly came with Marvel wanting a 50/50 split in the profits, with reports later suggesting it was 25-30%. Sony balked at this, especially considering Disney receives all merchandising revenues, and wanted to leave Marvel at 5%. However, fan outrage was enormous, and there were even MCU stars who used their social media power to subtly guide fans in favor of Spider-Man in the MCU. In short, as much as the show was going to carry on, it seems actors and Disney itself cleverly weaponized fans to pressure Sony.
Now, don't get us wrong, we love what the MCU has done with Spidey, as the previous franchise runs under Sam Raimi and Marc Webb lost the essence of the character and couldn't bridge the gap between the classic and modern iterations. Marvel Studios, however, guided Peter to higher ground as one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, mimicking the vision of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven's Civil War over a decade ago.
But Disney is a powerhouse, having had multiple films this year gross more than a billion dollars (and hey, Frozen 2 is still to come). Disney has the lion's share of the market. With the Fox buyout, it's an even bigger mogul when it comes to film and television, so to have fans turning against a studio with such ferocity sets a bad precedent. We're not saying Disney is a bully or Marvel vocally made a rallying call, but they certainly utilized a rabid fanbase to warn Sony they could lose big bucks down the line from future Spidey movies due to churning viewership. Of course, business is business. so such tactics aren't really low-balling or conniving, they're just to maximize ownership of assets and properties, and ultimately, profits from the audience.
Still, it's scary to know if a studio or property parts ways with Disney, the hate could be so strong. All fans are doing is just giving the House of Mouse more power in an industry it already dominates. Sony could well have pulled off the Spidey flicks following Venom's success and using the knowledge gained from the Disney partnership, but now we'll never know. Angry fans felt this wasn't a risk to take, and Sony itself acceded soon enough, surrendering due to the optics of the situation.
But in caving, Sony has only helped Disney continue its stranglehold on the entertainment industry. It's not good for growth, evolution, creative diversity amongst studios and other production companies who are seeking to rise to the challenge to bring big-name properties to life. With that in mind, Sony here proves just how powerful Disney is right now. It gets what it wants, when it wants and doesn't even have to fight its own war in public -- the fans will do that for the execs free of charge.
Helmed by Jon Watts, Spider-Man: Far from Home stars Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon and Martin Starr, with Marisa Tomei and Jake Gyllenhaal. The film is now available on Digital HD and Blu-ray and 4K UHD.
The as-yet untitled third Spider-Man film starring Tom Holland releases on July 16, 2021.