LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Spider-Man: Homecoming sees one of the most successful superheroes in movie history return to his comic book roots - but the film's release is a landmark Hollywood event for a different reason.
It brings together two corporate giants, Disney-owned Marvel and Sony, in a rare example of cooperation between rival studios on a major film.
Described by Marvel as the crown jewel of its comic book empire, the company sold Spider-Man to Sony in 1999, when superheroes had not yet become white-hot cinematic properties.
The web-slinger has become Sony's most prized asset over five movies from 2002 to 2014, making him the second-most bankable comic book character behind Batman.
But the last of these, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), starring Andrew Garfield, was considered a financial and critical disappointment.
Sensing the writing was on the wall, Sony Pictures Entertainment agreed in 2015 to allow Marvel Studios - after months of lobbying - to produce a new series of Spider-Man movies.
The result, starring 21-year-old Brit Tom Holland, is the first Spider-Man movie to exist in Marvel's "cinematic universe," a series of 15 inter-connected superhero films.