(image courtesy buzz sugar)
Here at GearFest we have been chatting about all manner of gear issues, and last night we were debating the merits of the “Spiderman” reboot. It seemed like Spiderman 3 had just come out, and none of us could get too excited about watching Peter Parker start all over again, no matter how awesome Emma Stone is!
The discussion did lodge a random tidbit from my brain, though, regarding who owns the rights to Spiderman and who wants to own him…
See, several years ago Marvel licensed the rights to their superheroes to other studios. X-Men and Fantastic Four are Fox properties and Spiderman is owned by Sony, meaning these three effectively exist in a different world than, say, “The Avengers”, since all those superheroes are still owned by Marvel. Confused yet? Hang on, because it gets a bit more confusing.
A few years ago, Disney bought Marvel. Suddenly, it wasn’t tiny Marvel studios against the big, deep pocketed production companies, it was a phalanx of Disney attorneys determining if there was any way to monetize the properties that were licensed away. At least, that’s one guy’s theory. From Jim Hill Media, a Disney focused blog (this is from a blog post in 2010):
As a Sony Pictures insider explained this situation to me earlier this week:
For over 10 years now, we’ve had a good working relationship with Marvel. But now that the Mouse owns Marvel, no one’s entirely sure how aggressive The Walt Disney Company is going to be when it comes to regaining the rights to these characters. Which is why management here felt that it was crucial that this film franchise maintain forward momentum. So that Disney’s attorneys would have as few opportunities as possible to probe for weakness in our licensing agreement with Marvel.
Which is why – come the Summer of 2012 – Peter Parker is headed back to high school. This Spider-Man reboot will be written by James Vanderbilt (Who – oddly enough – was one of the first very writers that Sony Pictures hired to work with Sam Raimi on Spider-Man 4). As for who will direct & star in this 2012 tentpole … Studio officials promise that all of this information will be revealed in the coming months.
As for Disney … They’re really just getting started on figuring out how to recover that $4.3 billion that they paid out for Marvel Entertainment, Inc. The Company’s short-term plans involve piggybacking on some of the Marvel-related projects that other studios will be releasing over the next year or so. EX: On or about May 7th of this year – which is when Paramount Pictures will be releasing “Iron Man 2” to theaters – Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is expected to put out a DVD that will then showcase selected episodes of the Iron Man animated TV series.
Beyond that … As expected, Disney’s attorneys will spend the next few years reviewing all of the licensing deals that Marvel Entertainment, Inc. has signed over the years. And – just as Sony officials feared – they will continually review these contracts, making sure that every single previously-agreed-upon term & condition is being met and/or honored. And if not … Well, you can bet that Mickey’s lawyers will then move at warp speed to sever these arrangements. Which would then allow control of the Marvel characters in question to revert back to The Walt Disney Company.
A part of me wonders if this is why “X-Men: First Class” was produced, giving Fox a new way to develop the movies and maintain their license. Of course, given the stunning failure of the “Fantastic Four” movies, Fox may be hoping Marvel wants them back!
It is interesting how the fortunes of Sony and Marvel have changed in the world of comics and movies. A few years ago “Spiderman” was the top dog of comic book movies. Now Marvel’s own “The Avengers” has destroyed that record, and it really makes you wonder, how long until a lawyer with a big old Mickey Mouse on his briefcase shows up to escort Peter Parker back to his rightful home? The on the latest movie are impressive, but I am sure Marvel is just salivating at the idea of bringing Spiderman back into the fold … let’s just hope we don’t see yet another origin movie soon!