Sony returns Spider-Man to Marvel universe in deal with Disney

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios have reached a deal to partner on the next instalment of the US$4 billion (S$5.42 billion) Spider-Man franchise, uniting the web-slinging superhero with Marvel's comic book universe.

Kevin Feige, president of Walt Disney Co's Marvel Studios, will co-produce the next film set for July 2017 release with Sony's former movies head Amy Pascal, according to a statement from the firms.

Under the agreement, Spider-Man will also appear in an upcoming Marvel film, and Marvel characters, which include Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, could appear in later Spider-Man films, the statement said.

Sony Pictures Entertainment, a division of Sony Corp, will continue to own the cinematic rights to Spider-Man, a Marvel superhero, the statement said.

"Spider-Man has more than 50 years of history in Marvel's world, and with this deal, fans will be able to experience Spider-Man taking his rightful place among other Super Heroes," the statement said.