Sony Pictures owns the Spider-Man franchise in film form; Disney owns Marvel, and Marvel has incorporated Spider-Man into its vast universe of flicks so he can hang out with assorted superheroes since 2016. But late on Tuesday, news broke that, reportedly, the two behemoth studios—who've long maintained a begrudging truce in order to rake in boatloads of money—could no longer agree on how to divide up their Spider-Man riches.
The partnership has been a fine one—Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has turned everything he's touched into (lots and lots of) gold, and it's certainly easier to do that when you can incorporate arguably the most famous/popular superhero. Sony, meanwhile, has managed to parlay Spider-Man's association with Marvel into some much-needed prestige points for its star talent, who wasn't doing so hot for a minute there.
But now, it appears Sony and Disney have reached an impasse. As Deadline reports, Disney asked that future Spider-Man films be a 50/50 co-financing arrangement between the studios, and there were discussions that this might extend to other films in the Spider-Man universe. Sony reportedly turned that offer down because, well, Sony simply didn’t want to share its biggest franchise, and instead proposed keeping the arrangement going under the current terms, which stipulate that Marvel receives something in the range of 5% of first dollar gross, sources said. Disney, in turn, refused.
Sony is clearly feeling emboldened by the solo success of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, as well as Venom, both of which were technically Marvel-free, though Kevin Feige is believed to have consulted (uncredited) on other Sony Spider-Man movies. The studio is banking on its up-and-coming star (Tom Holland) and its recent string of successes being enough to survive in a post-Feige landscape. When iO9 reached out to Sony for comment, a rep responded that it's their "belief this dispute is simply over a producer credit and negotiations are ongoing. They further clarified that Feige has contributed to other Spider-centric movies that he did not receive a producer credit on.”
That's a slight dialing down of the situation, but still! If this ends up morphing into a permanent deal, that would presumably mean goodbye for Spider-Man's involvement in current Marvel Studios-related projects. Now that Spidey is free from his MCU obligations, one would also assume he'd probably get to fighting Venom sooner than originally scheduled. Love when financial disputes brought on by late-stage capitalism lead to new conflicts in fictional worlds!
There are other interesting financial and legal wrinkles to this story, too. For starters, Disney (which, again, owns Marvel) is currently hard at work on a theme park ride at Anaheim's California Adventure dedicated to the beloved web-slinger ("the interactive experience will give visitors the feeling of having superpowers," an Orange County Register story decrees). But Disney only owns the theme park rights to Spider-Man in places literally west of the Mississippi River; that's why you'll find the (very good!) The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride at Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure park in Florida. Confusing! Good too, I guess because more Spider-Man rides mean more fun for everyone.
This story is developing, with—I'm sure—much more to come.
Originally Appeared on GQ