By now, we all know the story, right?
After swinging around Sony for years, Spider-Man finally found himself in the middle of a historic deal that would allow the character to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe, much to the delight of fans. The fruit of this new partnership between the two studios will soon be with us, as Spider-Man: Homecoming is set to crawl into theatres next week, with a ton of positive buzz surrounding it.
While that’s all well and good, the exact specifics of this landmark agreement have been hazy at best, with neither party really explaining what’s going on behind closed doors. From what we understand, though, the deal states that Sony still holds the rights to Spider-Man and that they’re simply sharing him with Marvel, which is why he can appear in films like Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. However, any solo outing featuring the iconic hero would be made for Sony and produced by Marvel.
Now, here’s where things get tricky. Because Spider-Man: Homecoming is being made for Sony, that means they’re also putting up all the costs and as such, all profits from the box office go to them. So, why would Marvel agree to produce the movie for their rival studio then if they didn’t get any share of the money it makes? Was it solely for the chance to feature the wall-crawler in their MCU films, and perhaps a small producer’s fee? That’s no doubt part of it, but as it turns out, there’s also another reason that the House of Ideas was more than happy to make Spider-Man: Homecoming for Sony and let them sit back and collect all the profits.
You see, while Disney may not have the rights to Spider-Man for use in movies, they do still have the merchandising rights to the character, meaning any profits generated from Spidey merchandise goes directly to them. That includes all toys, games, and whatever else is produced to tie in with Homecoming. You might not think that that would result in very much money, but according to WSJ, the profits from merchandise alone may be more than what Sony sees from the box office. In fact, as the outlet puts it, Spider-Man: Homecoming is essentially a $175 million commercial for toys, and in some ways, that’s absolutely true.
Whichever way you want to look at it, this partnership between the two studios is really a win-win for everyone, including the fans. It’s unclear how long things will last like this though, and there’s already been rumors of Sony wanting to take the character back in a few years and put him in their own cinematic universe, while other reports say the opposite, telling us that Marvel is making a move to acquire the cinematic rights to Spidey. The future is still uncertain, then, but for now, we can rest easy knowing that Spider-Man: Homecoming is all but guaranteed to be a massive hit and that the iconic hero is now back where he truly belongs.