It’s been a week since Geekdom was devasted by the news that our beloved wall-crawler was exiting the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) due to a fall out in negotiations between Disney and Sony. It’s especially devastating given the obvious and inarguable fact that, THEY FINALLY GOT IT RIGHT! But, what are we to do other than drink, or eat, or cry our sorrows away? Probably a little bit of all three. Although, I have to say, the award for best reaction to the “divorce” most certainly belongs to Mister Jeff Goldblum.
I mean, unless the two corporate giants square-away their differences, all that awaits us are more horribly written villain films (I’m looking at you, Venom), and mediocre “Spider-Man” films. It’s like we’ve been transported back to the 80s and 90s, when comic book films pretended that our heroes existed in a world without their colorfully-attired comrades.
But here’s the thing, Disney and Marvel have wholly and completely earned the terms that they are asking for. They want a deal where there’s a 50/50 co-financing stake in all future “Spider-Man” movies, as opposed to the current deal, which only sees them receiving up to 5% of first-dollar gross (the gross box office revenue from a film’s first day of release), as well as all merchandising revenue (Source: Business Insider). Seems fair, right? Especially given the character’s diminishing return on investment since Raimi’s Spider-Man 3. To illustrate this for you, below is a short breakdown of Sony’s financials over the past seventeen years (Source: Box Office Mojo) so you can better understand the slow death our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man was experiencing before Disney and Marvel swooped in to rescue him from eternal oblivion….
Let me just preface this information with a confession: I love, love, loooooove the Raimi films. Sure, Spider-Man 3 left much to be desired, but overall, when the three chapters are viewed as a whole, Spidey’s journey via Sam Raimi’s artistic vision was a great one. And, Spider-Man 2, in my opinion, is one of the greatest “comic book” movies of all time.
So, beginning with the behemoth that was Raimi’s first Spider-Man, and a production budget of $139 million, the film’s Worldwide Lifetime Gross was $821,708,551. During its Opening Weekend, the film nearly made back its entire production cost, bringing in $114,844,116 – and this was only domestically!
Just a little over two years later, Raimi would give us what is arguably the “Godfather II” of his Spidey saga. With a production budget of $200 million, this masterpiece would go on to bring in a Worldwide Lifetime Gross of $783,766,341. Granted, this is about 4% less than his first, however, from a studio-profit perspective, Raimi was still killing it. Additionally, if Doc Ock is ever recast, that person will have some Giant-Man-size shoes to fill, because Alfred Molina was completely friggin’ brilliant.
Now comes the “Achilles heel” of our first – and only standing – trilogy: Spider-Man 3.
*ominous music plays in the background*
Even though fans are torn as to whether they love it, despise it, or merely just like it, the film still made Sony a boat-load of money. With a production budget of $258 million, the third and final installment of Sam Raimi’s trilogy brought in a Worldwide Lifetime Gross of $890,871,686. It even topped the first film’s Opening Weekend, banking $151,116,516, as well as also surpassing both predecessors’ Foreign Market Lifetime Gross, netting an extremely comfortable $554,341,323.
The Amazing Spider-Man
It would be a little over five years before we saw another Spider-Man film, this time as a reboot, with a whole new Spidey, and a whole new cast. Sporting a production budget of $230 million, this new take on the mythos brought in a Worldwide Lifetime Gross of $757,930,663, which was less than Raimi’s second installment. The Amazing Spider-Man also brought in the least amount of dollars for its Opening Weekend here in the States, netting a sizably smaller $62,004,688. This was even with the widest theatrical release of all the Spider-Man films up until this point (4,318 theaters).
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The last and final adventure for our beloved wall-crawler that we’d see in live-action was 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – at least, until our current champ, Tom Holland, took up the web-shooters two years later in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Sadly, this final installment for Andrew Garfield brought in the least amount of money for Sony. With a production budget of somewhere between $200 and $293 million, and the largest domestic theatrical release of the Sony “solo” era (4,324 theaters), its Worldwide Lifetime Gross was only $708,982,323 (almost $75 million below Raimi’s Spider-Man 2). Now, that’s still a nice little profit for the studio, but seeing as we began this journey with as much pomp and circumstance as a comic book movie could possibly receive, the small whimper that we ended on really doesn’t frame the debate in a favorable position for Sony, especially when we throw in Venom, a film that’s almost as bad as Iron Man 3. However, truth be told, they’re both looking like identical siblings to me right now.
And if you’re wondering what the jump from sole ownership to a partnership looked like, just for shits and giggles, here ya go:
With a production budget of $175 million (Disney and Marvel were even able to keep the costs down lower than any of the previous films), Spider-Man: Homecoming raked in a Worldwide Lifetime Gross $880,166,924. Now, that’s still a little lower than Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, which, up until this point, had the highest gross of all the films – that is, until Spider-Man: Far From Home blew every film that came before it to smithereens.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
With the smallest production budget of all the Spidey films that preceded it ($160 million), Far From Home devoured the box office, bringing in a Worldwide Lifetime Gross of $1,115,751,480 – over a billion freakin’ dollars! And the film has yet to complete its theatrical run. It is, by miles away, thee most successful Spider-Man film to-date.
Now, you might be asking yourself, where do Venom and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse fall? Because, after all, they were both made in association with Disney and Marvel. Well, because I’m a completist to a fault, here’s the breakdown for each:
Worldwide Lifetime Gross for Venom: $856,085,151 (with a production budget of $100 million)
Worldwide Lifetime Gross for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: $375,469,903 (with a production budget of $90 million)
And let us not forget that Into the Spider-Verse won the coveted Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars this year, which is further proof that, in the hands of Marvel, their characters are better serviced than with anyone else.
Here’s a quick list of all the above films in order of largest to smallest Worldwide Lifetime Gross, so that, the next time you’re out and about, you can dazzle the crowd with your in-depth knowledge of all things Spider-Man:
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (Disney/Marvel/Sony): $1,115,751,480 (and still counting)
- Spider-Man 3 (Sony): $890,871,686
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (Disney/Marvel/Sony): $880,166,924
- Venom (Disney/Marvel/Sony): $856,085,151
- Spider-Man (Sony): $821,708,551
- Spider-Man 2 (Sony): $783,766,341
- The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony): $757,930,663
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Sony): $708,982,323
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Disney/Marvel/Sony): $375,469,903
So, where do we go from here? Well, I think it’s inevitable that Disney and Sony will strike some sort of deal in the end. Spider-Man is too big of a character to not keep in the MCU. Both companies have a lot to lose if neither finds a way to compromise, and the backlash that they’ll both have to endure has only just begun. Sony has so far suffered the brunt of Geekdom’s wrath, but it’s only a matter of time before it spills over into the house of the Mouse. Especially after Feige gave us, what I think, amounts to a completely mendacious and insincere response to the whole debacle, given that we, the fans, have been there with him from the very beginning:
“I’m feeling about Spider-Man gratitude and joy,” Feige told EW. “We got to make five films within the MCU with Spider-Man: two standalone films and three with the Avengers. It was a dream that I never thought would happen. It was never meant to last forever. We knew there was a finite amount of time that we’d be able to do this, and we told the story we wanted to tell, and I’ll always be thankful for that.”
If this was the case, Mister Feige, why then, tell us, did you pivot yourselves into a corner, not only with how entangled Spider-Man now is within the MCU, but also with how Far From Home ended? If this wasn’t meant to last forever, and you guys knew Far From Home could potentially be your last film with Sony, why did you end it on such a huge freaking cliffhanger? One that will diverge the course of the character from that of any he’s seen before it? Also, please tell us, because inquiring minds would like to know – why choose Peter as Tony Stark’s supposed torchbearer? The character is now, not only synonymous with the Avengers (and every other character currently existing within the MCU), but also with Tony himself, who’s become, and continues to be even in death, a surrogate father to the young superhero. You can’t just wipe all of that away like it never happened, sir. And even if Sony came up with a brilliant script which did just that (and they absolutely won’t), like the survivors of Thanos’ snap, we will all remember.
We’ll be watching, so iron out the contractual kinks and make the deal happen. Whatever it takes.