Sony Almost Acquired Rights To Most Other Marvel Characters For Only $25 Million


Spider-Man was almost the tip of a very big iceberg for Sony Pictures.

Many moons ago, when the studio was negotiating for Peter Parker’s screen rights (they only owned DVD rights at the time), Marvel boss Ike Perlmutter presented a bumper deal to Sony that would have seen the company gain control of Captain America, Iron Man, Black Panther, Thor, Hulk and many of the other pillars underpinning the current Marvel Cinematic Universe – for the record, by 1998, the X-Men and Fantastic Four were already shacked up at Fox.

The asking price? $25 million, though once Sony executive Yair Landau reported back to his superiors, they allegedly scoffed at the deal, saying something to the effect of:

Nobody gives a sh—about any of the other Marvel characters. Go back and do a deal for only Spider-Man.

And, well, let’s just say that quote hasn’t aged well. History tells us that in 1998, Sony and Marvel brokered a Spidey-only deal worth $10 million, with an equal split on consumer products revenue and 5 percent of any film gross. Fast forward to 2002 and Spider-Man had become the biggest superhero on the planet, though it wasn’t until the advent of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man – and with it, the fledgling Marvel Cinematic Universe – that the Spidey franchise began to exhibit symptoms of fatigue.

Five films later, and Sony and Marvel opened negotiations again – only this time, the latter was in an enviable position of power. Let’s not forget that by 1998, Marvel was just emerging from bankruptcy, and had begun leasing its prized characters out to rival studios as a way to generate revenue.

Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Fritz documents all this (and more!) in his new book, The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies, and we’re already itching to learn more about Sony’s missed opportunity – even if they couldn’t have known at the time that Marvel was about to become the greatest export of comic book movies, well, ever.

Source: WSJ