Spider-Man's Marvel future in peril as talks stall

LOS ANGELES • Marvel's superhero films could lose their most famous character after Sony confirmed on Tuesday that talks over its deal to share Spider-Man with the Disney-owned studio have broken down.

The Marvel movies have together grossed US$22 billion (S$30.5 billion) at the global box office and British actor Tom Holland's Spider-Man has become an increasingly central figure in the most lucrative franchise in film history.

But while the teen web-slinger has for decades been the crown jewel of the Marvel comic book empire on which the films are based, Sony owns the character's movie rights.

He began appearing in Disney-owned Marvel's "cinematic universe" only after the Hollywood giants struck an almost-unprecedented 2015 deal to co-produce and split profits across the films.

A key aspect of that partnership has now broken down.

Sony confirmed that Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige - widely credited with the phenomenal boom in comic book movies of the past decade - will no longer produce Spider-Man films, with a spokesman adding the studio was "disappointed".

"We hope this might change in the future, but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him... do not allow time for him to work on (intellectual property) it does not own," the Sony spokesman said in a statement.

The separation makes it "almost certain" that the character Spider-Man will be absent from crossover appearances in future Marvel films, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Multiple Hollywood media outlets reported on Tuesday that Disney and Sony had failed to agree on financial terms for future Spider-Man films.

According to entertainment news website Deadline, Disney had wanted to significantly increase its financial stake in new Spider-Man movies, while Sony refused to alter existing terms.

Sony said the reports "mischaracterised recent discussions", but thanked Feige for "the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2019, with the headline 'Spider-Man's Marvel future in peril as talks stall'. Print Edition | Subscribe