Yesterday, we heard that Sony and Marvel/Disney failed to renegotiate their partnership to produce Spider-Man movies together. The studios couldn’t reach an agreement, so Spider-Man and the Marvel Cinematic Universe will reportedly go their separate ways.
Not much has changed on that front, but over at The Hollywood Reporter, Sony’s spokespeople have offered some clarification about what went wrong (at least according to Sony’s side of the story):
“Much of today’s news about Spider-Man has mischaracterized recent discussions about Kevin Feige’s involvement in the franchise. We are disappointed, but respect Disney’s decision not to have him continue as a lead producer of our next live action Spider-Man film. We hope this might change in the future, but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him – including all their newly added Marvel properties – do not allow time for him to work on IP they do not own. Kevin is terrific and we are grateful for his help and guidance and appreciate the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue.”
By “mischaracterized” discussions, Sony is probably referring to the early reports (like the story we ran yesterday) that negotiations failed due to a financing disagreement. They say that’s not case. Instead, apparently Disney fully-opted out of reupping the deal because they wanted Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige to focus on their newly acquired Fox superhero properties instead of producing an “IP they do not own.”
Keep in mind that this only a statement from Sony, and (as of this publication) neither Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, or The Walt Disney Corporation have spoken on the matter. Where previous reports asserted that both studios were responsible for failing to reach a compromise, here we have Sony placing the blame squarely on Marvel/Disney and their preoccupation with their Fox properties.
Do you buy it? There might be some truth to Sony’s reasoning, but it seems to me like this whole Spider-Man deal was labyrinthinely complicated from the start and is unravelling in an equally esoteric way. I can believe that it’s no longer feasible for Feige to commit time and resources to what’s essentially a Sony product, but I also have a hunch that percentage negotiations were a deciding factor too, as well as studio politics.
Anyways, I doubt this update will be much consolation to fans who want Spider-Man to remain in the MCU, nor will it be much interest to those who don’t care about inside baseball. We still have no clue what the Spider-Man movies will look like moving forward. But for everyone, this debacle should come as an important reminder that commerce dictates art in the upper echelons of Hollywood.