Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios announced that the two companies are back in business this past Friday, after a dispute this summer over the latest Spider-Man franchise. In the new agreement, Disney will receive around 25 percent of the profits from Sony, in exchange for Kevin Feige’s skills in production. In addition, Disney will maintain its merchandising rights and contribute a quarter of the funding for production. An exciting addition to the arrangement is that Spider-Man will also be featured in a future Marvel Studios film.
What was the catalyst in fixing the relationship between Sony and Disney? There were several factors that motivated the two sides to reunite. Mutual profit of box office receipts aside, the triumph of Spider-Man also opens other opportunities. Sony, for instance, has a series of movies with Spider-Man-centric characters that are in the early stages of production, with “Venom” moving for a sequel to start shooting in November and “Morbius,” another title based on a Marvel character, in post-production with a release set for 2020. These future productions have and will continue to benefit from Spider-Man’s success; not to mention, Sony’s Spider-Man video game franchise, which is one of the more popular games currently in circulation. Marvel, meanwhile, capitalizes on merchandising. Marvel will also gets to establish control over the creative direction over one of its most legendary characters. Another big incentive for these two companies to amend their relationship was the fanbase reaction to Spider-Man leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Dedicated viewers were enraged when the news first broke about the Disney-Sony dispute. Many fans were concerned for the future of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and his character’s development.
This brings into question how powerful fans are in relation to decisions made within entertainment. As exemplified by other production companies such as HBO and BBC, the opinions of viewers have had various consequences on decisions made by these studios. HBO faced massive fan outrage because of the conclusion of the infamous and extremely successful television series “Game of Thrones.” They relied on the dedication viewers have to the show despite dissatisfaction. Although the ending of the show was leaked mid-season, people continued to watch despite constant disappointment. With BBC, fans played a huge role in the decision of making the next Doctor, a female character. Despite the fact that it was a big step for the show, the decision seemed to be to revitalize the viewership of the series, which had fallen after the introduction of Peter Capaldi as The Doctor.
These entertainment companies do not have the same freedom in comparison to a big company such as Disney. Disney has reached so many areas of the entertainment industry and is so deeply rooted in our daily lives that they tend to have the upperhand. For example, with the Spider-Man dispute, Sony was at a disadvantage because so much of the Tom Holland Spider-Man fanbase came from Marvel, thus Disney. Did Sony cave into Disney’s wishes because they were concerned that Marvel viewers would refuse to support a Spider-Man separate from the MCU? Looking at where the companies stand in comparison to each other, Disney has more projects and is making more profit than Sony. Did Disney know that they would get their way with Spider-Man because of the reaction of the fanbase especially after being boosted by actors tweeting about the situation such as Jeremy Renner?
Either way, there has been a big sigh of relief for Spider-Man and his future. The next Spider-Man movie is scheduled to be released July 16, 2021.