Why did Marvel sell the rights to Spider-Man to Sony?
Today, Marvel is a successful company. It is within the Disney conglomerate, which makes it enjoy unprecedented financial health. But it was not always like this. Marvel was serious economic problems in the middle of the 90’s, even going so far as to declare in suspension of payments due to the enormous amount of debts that the company had.
Luckily, they discovered a short-term method of raising enough funds to avoid bankruptcy: sell the film rights of his characters to the movie studios. They did it ruthlessly, as they got rid of their best franchises. They would continue in possession of the rights of the characters to publish their comics, but the audiovisual producers, once they obtained their licenses, had the power to make as many films as they wanted and charge for the merchandising.
Sony Pictures took the jackpot. With Spider-Man. Thus was born the first spider-man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire in 2002.
Can Marvel take back the rights to Spier-Man?
The agreement between Sony and Marvel for the transfer of the audiovisual rights of Spider-Man has its dangerous part. It is stipulated that the rights will remain with Sony as long as it continues to produce films of this superhero. The contract would be broken automatically in case Sony did not produce a film of the character Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in a 5 year period. If that clause is met, the rights would automatically revert to Marvel.
Since 2002, Sony has delivered to the letter that contractSpider-Man is one of the most profitable superhero franchises of all time. Losing the rights now would put a big hole in the Japanese company.
Changes in agreements
Walt disney company bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009. A couple of years later, Marvel was able to renegotiate your rights of exploitation of merchandising, taking advantage of the fact that Sony was not going through a good financial moment. Surprises that life gives. That is why, if you go to a Disney store, you can easily buy a Spider-Man figure or stuffed animal.
They weren’t the only advances between the two companies. When Disney was shaping the plot of Civil war, Spider-Man was missing. With great tact, they came to an agreement associate your cinematic universes. Sony could really do with the push that this entailed. The deal would be sealed in 2017. Since then, Disney has produced all of these films:
- Captain America: Civil War (2016)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
- Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
- Avengers: Endgame (2019)
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
So… why aren’t the movies on Disney +?
That last agreement we talked about allows Sony keep the distribution rights of the superhero.
Although now Spider-Man can appear in his own solo films and also in those of the MCU, the fact that the distribution is still kept by Sony makes us think that we will not see Spider-Man in Disney Plus unless there is a new agreement.
Is there another case similar to Marvel and Spider-Man?
Exactly the same thing happened around the same time between Marvel and Fox. Thus, the film rights of the X-Men and their merchandising they would be out of the reach of Marvel.
Luckily for Marvel, having Daddy Disney behind you is the equivalent of spending your life in easy mode. In 2018, Disney put 71.3 billion dollars on the table to acquire the American communication group, whose absorption would be completed a year later, suddenly recovering the rights of the mutants.