Sony and Marvel Reach Deal to Keep Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Sony and Marvel Reach Deal to Keep Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Sony Pictures and Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel division are patching up their relationship after a high-profile split rocked Hollywood.

The two companies have agreed to co-produce the next “Spider-Man” movie, ending a dispute that clouded the future of one of the industry’s biggest franchises.

As part of the pact, Spider-Man will be featured in a future Marvel Studios film, the companies said Friday. Amy Pascal, former chairman of Sony Corp.’s film studio, will produce the next “Spider-Man” stand-alone film, which is scheduled for release on July 16, 2021.

The two sides had previously been unable to agree on new terms for their partnership, and the dispute splashed into public view last month. A falling-out would have kept Marvel President Kevin Feige — known for ensuring Marvel’s quality control — from working on new Spider-Man films. It also would have kept Sony’s character from appearing in separate Disney movies, banishing the character from the so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Even though Spider-Man is a Marvel superhero, Sony acquired the rights to the character long before Disney bought Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in 2009.

Sony used to produce Spider-Man films on its own, but after a few less-than-stellar installments, it teamed up with Disney for “Spider-Man: Homecoming” in 2017 and 2019’s “Far From Home” — Sony’s highest-grossing movie of all time. Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland, also appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies as the protege of Iron Man.

Spider-Man fans on social media have pleaded with the companies to repair the rift, arguing that it would ruin the storyline that had been built up for years.

Last month, Sony blamed the impasse in part on Feige being so busy producing other Disney movies. But Feige seems no less busy today; in fact, he’s currently in discussions to work on a new “Star Wars” film.

Some people familiar with the situation had described the clash as more of a financial issue. Disney has been requesting a 50% share of profits in the films going forward. Sony wanted to keep the current arrangement, in which Disney gets a 5% share of the box office.

Holland will reprise the title role of Spider-Man in the new picture. He also was featured in the MCU films, including this year’s “Avengers: Endgame,” the highest-grossing film of all time.

(Updates with earlier Spider-Man movies in sixth paragraph)

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