Movies

Spider-Man may be cut from MCU

Talks break down between Marvel and Sony over character rights

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 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 the Disney-owned Marvel Cinematic Universe only after the Hollywood giants struck an almost-unprecedented and highly secretive 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 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 IP (intellectual property) they do not own," a 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 journalist Graeme McMillan.

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

According to Deadline, which broke the news, 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".

In financial terms, Spider-Man is one of the most successful superheroes in movie history.

Holland's iteration has delivered box office gold - he has appeared in a total of five Marvel Studios and Sony films since the collaboration deal, which collectively grossed almost US$8 billion worldwide. - AFP

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