Oh what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to…. sort out rights, finances and inter-studio relations! After all our coverage of the problems SONY and Marvel Studios have had over the Spider-man situation, it now appears that there is more to say in their shared universe.
After the recent falling-out over profit-sharing it did seem that for the foreseeable future, Peter Parker would be absent from the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe and that this summer’s Far from Home would be the abrupt end to several storylines that stretched across the wider widescreen landscape. But as we predicted, work continued behind the scenes for a mutually satisfying outcome… and it seems a truce and compromise has been worked out – though it may still be a temporary one. For the moment, SONY has now agreed to exactly the original terms from a few months ago, offered by Disney for sharing the production and profit factors. (The specifics: Disney and Marvel will co-finance 25% of a third movie for a 25% equity stake, Disney retains merchandising rights to the character and Spider-man may also possibly appear in one more main MCU outing)
With director Jon Watts is in talks to return (despite not being under contract) and producer Amy Pascal confirmed, they will resume their web-slinging duties alongside returning cast-members Tom Holland, Zendaya, Marissa Tomei, Jacob Battalon, and Jon Favreau for ONE more outing that will effectively finish the proposed ‘trilogy’ of stories that began with Homecoming. The film is planned to hit cinemas in July 2021. Given the rather jarring end to Far from Home in which…. spoilers!…an after-credit scene showed Peter’s secret identity exposed to the world, having a third film to sort out the mess seems a good and pragmatic plan.
“Peter Parker’s story took a dramatic turn in Far From Home and I could not be happier we will all be working together as we see where his journey goes,” said Pascal. “This has been a winning partnership for the studios, the franchise and the fans and I’m overjoyed it will continue.”
“I am thrilled that Spidey’s journey in the MCU will continue, and I and all of us at Marvel Studios are very excited that we get to keep working on it,” said Feige in a statement. “Spider-Man is a powerful icon and hero whose story crosses all ages and audiences around the globe. He also happens to be the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes, so as Sony continues to develop their own Spidey-verse you never know what surprises the future might hold.”
It’s not entirely clear is a third movie will be the end of the current deal or if the situation may continue to spin and weave and evolve over time – as most fans hope – but it does seem that SONY still intend to structure a more specific ‘Spider-verse’ that doesn’t rely as heavily on frequent integration into MCU events. Feige’s comments perhaps indicate an ongoing co-operation for them to exist in parallel if not frequent contact rather than to deliberately avoid it.
“We have had a great collaboration over the last four years, and our mutual desire to continue was equal to that of the many fans,” said Robert Lawson, chief communications officer for Sony Pictures Entertainment noted. “We are delighted to be moving forward together.”
Feige will once again oversee the connective tissue elements of the next story – and it will be a busy time for him given that there has been news he may also be working with Disney on the other arm of their mighty franchise empire, on a possible Star Wars feature.