‘Spider-Man’ Film Rights Need to Return to Marvel Studios


At this point, Sony Pictures has gotten all it can out of the Spider-Man movie franchise.   Since the release of the original Spider-Man movie in 2002, the franchise, previously a juggernaut in the cinematic landscape, has fallen by the wayside. Since Sony’s reboot of the Spider-Man movie series with The Amazing Spider-Man, the films have not performed to expectations. Recently, Marvel Studios has been firing on all cylinders with its properties, and it is time for the Spider-Man film rights to return to Marvel Entertainment.

Things have changed a great deal in the last 10 years. Spider-Man is not the box office mojo juggernaut it once was. Five years ago, fans would not have believed that a time would come where movies featuring Captain America and the Guardians of the Galaxy could best the friendly neighborhood webslinger at the box office. Yet in 2014, that is exactly what happened.

The quality of the Spider-Man movies is suffering exponentially. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 received the most unfavorable reviews that any Spider-Man movie of all time–even worse reviews than Spider-Man 3. It also grossed the least of any Spider-Man movie that has ever been released.  With a production budget of about $250 million, plus another $100 million or more for prints and advertising, that is unacceptable for a marquee franchise character like Spider-Man. That is disappointing business.

Sony recently announced the delay of over two years for the next planned sequel in the franchise. Instead of the summer of 2016, The Amazing Spider-Man 3 is now tentatively set for a 2018 release. Sony Pictures does plan to release a Sinister Six spin-off film in 2016.  However, the question of how a big budget Sinister Six film without Spider-Man will work has not been answered. One wonders how audiences will take to a film featuring villains, some who have not been previously established, without a hero to play off of.

In recent years, Marvel Entertainment has reattained the film and TV rights to certain properties, including DaredevilBlade and even Ghost Rider, from Sony Pictures. Now that Marvel has its own studio wing, the best company to produce Marvel movies is no longer Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox or Universal Studios. The best company for the job is Marvel Studios. The Iron Man property spent years languishing at New Line Cinema, until Marvel set up a deal to produce the film on its own. This begat ThorCaptain America and ultimately The Avengers. The Marvel Studios releases are now the big ticket event movies of the year. Marvel handles its properties better than any other studio, so it makes sense that the Spider-Man film rights should return to Marvel.

Spider-Man had his time and day in the sun at Sony. However, those glory days are now over. Sony has not been able to figure out how to best properly present a reboot. The Spider-Man movies are not as lucrative as they used to be. In addition, Sony no longer gets any merchandising money for the film. In 2011, Sony and Disney (the parent company of Marvel Entertainment) traded the film and merchandising rights for Spider-Man.; meaning, Marvel/Disney let go of all participation rights to the live-action Spider-Man films. In exchange, Marvel/Disney gets all the merchandising rights for Spider-Man. Essentially, Sony gets absolutely zero dollars from any Spider-Man merchandise. Merchandising is a huge chunk of change for properties like Spider-Man. It means that Sony is giving up a huge source of income for this franchise just to keep the film rights that are not as profitable as they used to be.

Previously, Disney made a distribution deal to get back the distribution rights for the Iron ManThor and Captain America films from Paramount. In the exchange, Disney gave Paramount a big payoff and some box office percentages off the top. It would be advantageous for Disney to meet with Sony during the break from the Spider-Man films and offer Sony Pictures a similar deal. Disney needs to make a concerted effort to bring the Spider-Man film rights back where they belong– at Marvel Studios.

Opinion by Jeffrey Harris


Rotten Tomatoes
Box Office Mojo
The Wall Street Journal

13 Responses to "‘Spider-Man’ Film Rights Need to Return to Marvel Studios"

  1. Daniel St.Aubin   October 2, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Sorry, but despite the popularity of Miles Morales that will NOT go over well with hardcore Spidey fans. Peter Parker’s story has yet to be done right. Until that happens fans don’t want to see anymore webslingers. Sony needs to give Spider-man back to Marvel. They’ve had their chance with 5 films already and enough is enough. The Maguire trilogy was complete campy crap, and the Garfield version had potential but that was destroyed with Amazing Spider-man 2. They have ultimately ruined the entire franchise while insulting our intelligence simultaneously. ITS OVER, SONY. GIVE SPIDER-MAN BACK TO MARVEL!!!!

  2. TreyASimmons   September 19, 2014 at 8:54 am

    While on one hand I would love to see Spider-Man, or even the X-Men back with Marvel… I have reservations about the idea of the properties returning to Marvel. I honestly hope it doesn’t happen. My reasons may be selfish, but what it comes down to is this: If Marvel has the rights to its two biggest properties from the comics, Spider-Man or X-Men, then they’ll have to be worked into the Marvel Cinematic budget, scheduling, etc. Which also means more time between sequels to franchises, which could mean talent moving on, and more importantly means that smaller properties like this year’s hit Guardians of the Galaxy, or the upcoming Dr. Strange and Ant-Man films may not continue to appear. With Spider-Man or X-Men using the Marvel budget there’d be no room for the Runaways, the Inhumans, Ms/Capt. Marvel, Black Panther, Moon Knight, or even the recently reacquired Punisher. So for me, who likes seeing Comic Book films, who loved the comic books, I’d like to see the Spider-Man and X-Men properties stay where they are… because that way, as an audience member, I can get more of what I want.

  3. Adam Martinez   September 6, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Sony should stay with old Spider-Man. Marvel studios should just go forward in a new concept for a new Spider-Man feature film. Starting with the Death of Spider-Man and the intro of Miles Morales/Spider-Man. A 13-year-old half-Black/half-Hispanic youth who was also bitten by a genetically-altered spider and gained similar powers to Peter Parker. Not wishing to become a superhero, he doesn’t put his powers to use. He later witnesses Spider-Man’s death, and feeling guilty that his abilities could have helped Peter, takes up the mantle of Spider-Man.

    • Barbara Gordon   November 1, 2014 at 3:27 am

      Lol. Nobody wants to see a Mexican super hero. Well except maybe burrito man but that’s only because he’s lazy and unemployed. I guess that would give millions of Mexicans something to relate to

  4. Jack Dennis   September 3, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Spider-Man is doing fine at Sony.He will undoubtedly be apart of the Sinister Six movie, but most likely just Spider-Man and not Peter Parker which sounds like a cool idea to me.This version of Peter Parker is a lot closer to the comics than the original trilogy.

  5. JRios   September 3, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I agree the spidey rights should revert back to marvel studios, but I don’t think their as bad as what fox is doing to x-men and the upcoming fantastic four movies. They need to get the rights back before it’s too late.

  6. Rane Pollock   September 2, 2014 at 7:13 am

    The rights reverting to Marvel mean we wouldn’t see a Spidey movie until like 2020. That’s because Marvel can only make 2 movies a year. If the rights revert back, then we lose any hope of seeing Spidey for a good long while. And so what if he uses a skateboard? The Spidey in the last two movies is far closer to his comic book counterpart than in the first trilogy of movies. So, before you just go and say that the rights should revert back, think about what that would actually mean. Yes, Marvel is killing it right now. But don’t be so naive to think that Marvel would just add in Spidey and not skip a beat.

    • Garry Pitts   September 3, 2014 at 10:16 am

      That’s not true. Marvel Studios can make more than 2 a year. In 2016 they have 3 movies coming out under Marvel Studios. Also, do we really need another Spidey origin story? We can get a Spidey during his year 2 or 3 all ready established. They are reportedly skipping the origins of Dr. Strange and Black Panther who in my opinion need more of an origin story than Spidey. There I believe they can add him in and not skip a beat.

  7. Scott   September 1, 2014 at 6:54 am

    The reboot was horrible. The characterization of Peter Parker ruined the movies. Somebody must have thought making him cool would appeal to younger audiences. Peter Parker with a skateboard!? Lame…

    Marvel studios would never let that happen. Its one of they key ingredients that help them make billions.

  8. obscuremetaphor   September 1, 2014 at 5:15 am

    Everyone including marvel agree with you. But saying it should happen doesn’t mean people will listen. Sony still make money from spider-man, and they always will. Marvel need to throw a good deal in their direction before this will ever happen.

    Things aren’t as bad as you paint them either. Amazing spider-man 2 was not universally hated as you suggest, and spider-man 3 is still considered the low point. If they give up the franchise now, they never have a chance to make the next great Spidey film.

    • Mani Karne   September 3, 2014 at 8:26 am

      yes ur right @obscuremetaphor

    • Don John   September 8, 2014 at 5:59 am

      The lowest point of the franchise came from both TASM 1 & 2. They were both mixed to poorly received (ASM 2 more) and under-perform by having a huge budget.

  9. Mickey98   September 1, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Great article, spidey really does deserve the justice of appearing on screen with the Avengers


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