Spider-Man: Which Deal Should Sony Take? We Weigh The Options

Sony Pictures is not for sale

As of this writing, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that we’re all hoping that Sony and Disney come to some sort of agreement regarding Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The way things were left in Spider-Man: Far From Home, I think we’re all curious to see what happens to Peter next in the context of a wide world…but is it possible?

This week, it was reported that Sony and Disney walked away from making a deal, with the latest report saying that Disney went for both a 50/50 co-financing deal and a 70/30 deal in favor of Sony, which is quite a step up from the 5% first-dollar gross they had on Spider-Man: Homecoming  and Spider-Man: Far From Home. 

But what deal should Sony actually take? The reason I’m asking the question from their perspective is because they are ultimately the ones who will be making concessions. They will be giving up a larger slice of their pie to Disney, and therefore it makes sense to cover the opportunity cost they will have in different scenarios, should they actually sign a deal.

The Assumptions

Okay, as with all what-if scenarios, we are going off of some assumptions.

The budget – For this one, we are assuming the budget will be around $180 million for the film. This is a touch higher than the last two films, so is hopefully in line with what Sony would do regardless of whether or not they get in the game with Disney. Yes, budgets would likely differ based on how things shook out, but we have no way of predicting that.

The advertising cost – This is a complete guess. Unlike budgets, advertising costs are really difficult to come by, but with a big movie like this, I figured $100 million is a safe bet. For our purposes, as long as they are consistent between the different models, I don’t think it matters too much what these costs are.

Worldwide gross – For this, we assume that Sony’s standalone take will perform worse than a joint fare with Disney, but not as bad as their worst outing with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which took in over $700 million. With that in mind, we think $800 million is an okay guess. With the joint worldwide gross estimations, we believe the film will do well, but believe that it following Avengers: Endgame and tying so well into the Blip situation is one big reason why it made so much money. As such, we have it just shy of $1 billion at $925 million.

Theater cut – For this, it’s hard to guess, as this varies per theater, per film, per week, so there is no cut-and-dry way to guess this. However, I have heard on multiple occasions that a good rule of thumb is that they take around 33% total, when all said and done.

All in all, true accuracy will vary with all these different aspects, but the key here is that they are consistent in every hypothetical model, so we should be able to compare them fairly easily.

Single Films – As much as I would love to do this for every successive film for the next ten years, there is no way for us to actually know how much each film will make beyond the next one (hell, even predicting next week’s box office is hard to do), as we don’t have a crystal ball and have no way of seeing what the landscape will be like, how Phase 4 of the MCU will fare, how Sony will rebound, etc. As such, we are only looking at the next film and using that as a jumping-off point.

Quality – So there’s no point in assuming the worst from either company. As such, we are assuming the film that comes next will be one that represents them putting their best foot forward, and would get in the neighborhood of 85% critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Other Contractual Stipulations

As we know, the percentage of the cut isn’t the only aspect of the deal Sony and Disney have at their disposal. There are also digital rights, merchandising rights, and potential percentages for Sony of the non-Spidey MCU films that will feature Spider-Man. However, for the sake of keeping things simple, I figured we’d stick to the percentages, if no other reason than to take a look at what the different scenarios look like.

Click to enlarge.

Of course, you may disagree grossly with what we’re working with here, numbers-wise, but I think this could be a fairly good indication of what could be expected. As such, it would make sense, in my mind, if Sony goes for something between a 70/30 and an 80/20 deal. 

As mentioned above, we pretty much ignore the other contractual stuff outside of the split, so if they mess around with those a bit to help sweeten the pot for each other (giving Disney digital rights and Sony some more merchandising), I think we have a few different options that could work. My mind goes to 80/20 more immediately because we know in another 10 years another renegotiation will happen. If it does, then Sony will need some more room to bargain, and if they’re at 70/30 or above, it doesn’t leave a lot of room.

Regardless, this is obviously a gross oversimplification, but it’s something to go off of.

So what do you think of these potential options? What deal do you think they should sign on for? Let us know your thoughts down below!

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Joseph Jammer Medina

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and contributor at LRM Online. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.

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