Amy Pascal’s comments over Sony and Marvel’s Spider-Man deal gets everybody in a tizzy over the Web-Slinger’s future with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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It seems Sony continues being the movie studio taking two steps forward, one step back when it comes to Spider-Man. They announce that Venom and Silver Sable/Black Cat movies are in development, only to later confirm neither film spins out of Spider-Man: Homecoming or connected with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Then the second trailer for Homecoming premieres, and while it received overwhelming positive reception, accusations abounded that it contained too many spoilers and too much Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). And now, thanks to some remarks by producer Amy Pascal, panic has set in regarding Spider-Man’s future within the MCU.
Pascal, the former co-chairperson of Sony Entertainment Pictures, spoke in a YouTube interview with Cosmic Book News at this year’s CinemaCon about Homecoming after the second trailer premiere. Not only did Pascal discuss her enthusiasm over the upcoming reboot and Jon Watts as its director, but also the deal struck between Sony and Marvel Studios over the use of Spider-Man on the big screen. And it’s here that she let slip the following:
"One of the things that I think is so amazing about this experience is that you don’t have studios deciding to work together to make a film very often. In fact, it may never happen again–after we do the sequel [to Spider-Man: Homecoming].Because Sony and Disney and Marvel all decided that the right thing to do was to allow Peter Parker and Spider-Man to be in the MCU, and to work with the Marvel guys and have them produce this film, and I think that was a very rare thing for three companies to do and a very brilliant thing for them to decide to do, because there are only so many stories that you know you can tell again and again and again about Spidey, and this is something that we would never been able to do in any other way. So, it was a very selfless thing that was very smart on the part of all the companies."
Which suggests that the current deal between Sony and Marvel over the Spider-Man movie rights will end after Spider-Man: Homecoming 2. Naturally, other news outlets quickly jumped on Pascal’s statement, and the internet exploded with talk of Spider-Man leaving the MCU.
However, there are several things we should take under consideration. First, as reported in Variety, Deadline, and elsewhere, the sequel for Spider-Man: Homecoming has a scheduled released date for July 5, 2019–a full two years away. A lot can happen in two years, including a renegotiation between Sony and Marvel, even though the first agreement, as Pascal points out, was a rarity in and of itself. Second, Tom Holland has a six film contract to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man, as he explained during his interview with The Hollywood Reporter:
"[Marvel] give you options, and those could be exercised whenever. Like a cameo in Avengers. I’m unclear as to which movies, though. I do know I have three Spider-Man movies and three solo movies contracted."
Since Holland will also star as Spidey in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War (already in production), it means he’ll only have done half of the films he’s under contract for by the time the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel begins production. Even if Sony and Marvel didn’t renegotiate their current deal, Holland must still play the MCU Spider-Man for two more movies.
But even if their current arrangement comes to an end after Homecoming 2, why wouldn’t Sony and Marvel renegotiate another deal? As Mark Hughes of Forbes observes:
"…it would be insane and practically business suicide for anyone involved to end this relationship."
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JANUARY 28: Amy Pascal arrives at the 28th Annual Producers Guild Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 28, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
In Sony’s case, considering their continuing financial difficulties as a viable film studio, continuing a partnership with Disney and Marvel over Spider-Man is essential. Especially considering their other major film IPs are in turmoil. Their 2016 remake of Ghostbusters, despite earning almost $230 million in ticket sales worldwide, still failed to break even, resulting a $70 million loss which forced them to shelve any sequel plans. Inferno, the Tom Hanks and Ron Howard sequel to The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons also flopped. Even the success of the upcoming 25th James Bond film is in doubt due to questions over whether Daniel Craig will even agree to reprise his role as 007, despite the film already being in production. The studio even took a $1 billion write-down according to the Los Angeles Times, losing 14% in revenue alone during the last three months of 2016. If Sony wants Spider-Man as a viable IP again, they need Marvel, and both studios know it.
Still, the panic from fandom over Pascal comments has only escalated. A popular theory is that Sony’s announced Venom and Silver Sable/Black Cat projects are Sony’s potential bargaining chips for renegotiating with Marvel, or a way for them obtaining the rights back altogether. This despite Tom Bacon of MoviePlot.com pointing out the latter’s unlikelihood given Venom’s planned release date. Other rumors (via Lainey Gossip) are also circulating that Sony and Marvel’s partnership is already on the brink of collapse over the possibility that Gwyneth Paltrow might reprise her role as Pepper Pots in Spider-Man: Homecoming, despite this casting news being unconfirmed.
Regardless, now is a time for Spider-Man fans to stay calm. Spidey, for now, is still a big part of the MCU. Contracts, including rare and lucrative ones such as the one between Sony and Marvel, always come up for review after a designated period. And of course, no one knows how well Spider-Man: Homecoming will even do in the box office. No need to get too excited over one statement by one film producer. Still, you’d think Pascal would’ve learned something after the Sony email hacking debacle.