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Spider-Man is back in action. After publicly parting ways over a deal gone south, Disney/Marvel and Sony are back at the table and have struck a deal that would see Marvel produce another Spider-Man film for Sony. The new film even has a release date: July 16, 2021. Jon Watts, the filmmaker behind the previous two Spider-Man films, is in talks to direct.
“I am thrilled that Spidey’s journey in the MCU will continue, and I and all of us at Marvel Studios are very excited that we get to keep working on it,” said Marvel topper Kevin Feige. “Spider-Man is a powerful icon and hero whose story crosses all ages and audiences around the globe. He also happens to be the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes, so as Sony continues to develop their own Spidey-verse you never know what surprises the future might hold.”
Also as part of the arrangement, Spider-Man will appear in a future Marvel movie.
In 2015, Marvel and Sony unveiled an unprecedented intra-studio partnership that produced not only two well-regarded and massive hits with Spider-Man: Homecoming and this summer’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, but also took the character, whose movie rights are owned by Sony, and put him into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where the hero became one of its key players.
But the co-parenting deal fell apart not too long after the release of Far From Home, spilling into the open in August.
Terms of the new deal were not revealed, but it will allow Marvel and its chief Feige to produce and run creative point on one more movie that would star Tom Holland, the actor who is the current incarnation of the web-slinging superhero. Depending on how things go, more movies could be in the offing.
The partnership between Sony and Marvel has been fruitful at the box office. Homecoming made $880.1 million and featured Marvel character Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), while Spider-Man was a key part of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War and had a small but powerful role in this year’s Avengers: Endgame. Both films grossed more than $2 billion, with Endgame standing as the top film of all time, not adjusted for inflation. Far From Home was also a billion-dollar player — grossing $1.1 billion — and is Sony’s highest grossing film ever.
There was plenty of incentive to drive the two sides to return. Shared revenue of box office receipts notwithstanding, the success of Spider-Man also drives other lanes. Sony, for example, has a slate of Spider-Man-centric characters that are in the early stages of getting their own movies, with Venom already a hit and a sequel to start shooting in November. Morbius, another title based on a Marvel character, is in postproduction with a release set for 2020. The slate has benefited from Spider-Man’s popularity. There is also Sony’s Spider-Man video game franchise, which is one of the more popular games currently in circulation.
Marvel, meanwhile, gets to capitalize on merchandising. But perhaps more important, it gets to keep creative control over its most popular character, something it did not have during the years that saw the studio — then run by Amy Pascal — make critically maligned movies, and thus protect the brand.
Sept. 27, 12:27 p.m. Updated with the news that Jon Watts is returning to direct.
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Santa Barbara International Film Festival