Category Archives: Trending

AMC Theatres Bans Universal Pictures

Out of all of the public spats to have surfaced in the face of the coronavirus, no one could have predicted that one of the most controversial came from two of the most prominent entertainment companies in the industry.

After movie theaters shut down worldwide last month due to the coronavirus, many movie studios had to pivot to streaming their films on demand in order to make a profit. One of the more popular studios to have found success in this format was Universal Studios. Its most recent films The Hunt and The Invisible Man were among the first releases to be made available on VUDU, while Robert Downey Jr.’s Dolittle was released later on down the road. But one of the most successful rentals is, oddly enough, Trolls World Tour, which set the record for the most streams in a weekend release, surpassing even Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s streaming numbers, according to Deadline.

“The results for ‘Trolls World Tour’ have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of [premium video on demand],” NBC Universal CEO Jeff Shell said to The Wall Street Journal. “As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”

Well, that interview ended up being the worst possible thing Jeff could have done, because after that, AMC Theatres declared that it would no longer screen any of Universal’s movies in its 1,000 theaters across the globe. 

In a strongly-worded letter, AMC Entertainment President and CEO Adam Aron wrote to Universal conveying the company’s disappointment, expressing explicit frustration over Shell’s “release movies on both formats” comment. 

AMC believes that with this proposed action to go to the home and theatres simultaneously, Universal is breaking the business model and dealings between our two companies,” Adam writes. “It assumes that we will meekly accept a reshaped view of how studios and exhibitors should interact, with zero concern on Universal’s part as to how its actions affect us. It also presumes that Universal, in fact, can have its cake and eat it too, that Universal film product can be released to the home and theatres at the same time, without modification to the current economic arrangements between us. It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice.”

What does this mean for Universal? Going forward, you can expect any film with a Universal logo on it to not be playing at any AMC or Regal theater, including the upcoming Fast & Furious 9, animated Illumination movies such as Despicable Me and Minions, and future sequels to the Jurassic Park franchise. At the moment, you could still watch Universal movies from Cinemark or Harkins theaters, but that’s assuming if they don’t pull out later on like AMC or Regal Cinemas did. With AMC and Regal being the largest movie theater chains by far, you can expect Universal to be absent from over 18,000 screens across the world.

I get AMC’s frustrations with Universal. In his letter, Adam says they accepted Universal to originally stream Trolls World Tour to homes as an exception due to “unprecedented times.” He even says that they were willing to sit down with Universal and discuss different strategies and economic models that would benefit both companies, especially in the face of this pandemic.

So when Jeff completely disregards all of those conversations and investors and unilaterally decides this is the “new normal,” I can understand why AMC is more than peeved at his comments to the press. Yet, I can’t help but feel this might be a slight overreaction on AMC’s part. As part of Hollywood’s “Big Five” studios, Universal holds 11% of the market share, slightly behind Sony Pictures’ 12.1% and more than double of Paramount’s 5%. Universal’s movies have consistently placed among the year’s highest grosses, competing against Columbia Pictures, TriStar, 20th Century Fox, New Line Cinema, and even Warner Bros. Saying that a big chunk of movies would be missing from movie theaters is a severe understatement, and with that, a large chunk of the market as well.

“We absolutely believe in the theatrical experience and have made no statement to the contrary,” Univeral wrote in a response statement to AMC. “As we stated earlier, going forward, we expect to release future films directly to theaters, as well as on [premium video on demand] when that distribution outlet makes sense. We look forward to having additional private conversations with our exhibition partners.”

What do you guys think? Do you feel this is an overreaction on AMC’s part, or do you think they’re right to shut out all future Universal releases? Comment below, let me know. I’ll see y’all when the theaters reopen. 

– David Dunn

SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter, Wall Street Journal, Deadline

Sam Raimi Confirms He’s Directing ‘Doctor Strange 2’

Sam Raimi is returning to the Marvel universe, only this time he’ll be helming a project much “strange”-r than his last superhero outing.

A fantasy-horror filmmaker whose projects range from The Evil Dead series to Oz the Great and Powerful, Sam Raimi is no stranger to taking on unusual and off-the-wall type projects. His 1990 cult action film Darkman is one of the few original superhero movies out there, while his 2009 sleeper hit Drag Me To Hell was a creepy and unsettling return to his horror roots. Perhaps most notable to the superhero genre is his Spider-Man trilogy, starring Tobey Maquire and earning an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

Now Raimi is making a return to the superhero genre to direct Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. After previous director Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Day The Earth Stood Still) dropped out of the project back in January, talks of Raimi taking his place circulated around shortly after Derrickson left the project. Raimi essentially confirmed his new role while speaking to ComingSoon.net, all while expressing his fascination with the sorcerer supreme.

Fun fact: Doctor Strange was actually name-dropped in Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, where “Daily Bugle” publisher J. Jonah Jameson was brainstorming names to call Doc Ock.

“I loved Doctor Strange as a kid, but he was always after Spider-Man and Batman. For me, he was probably at number five for me of great comic book characters,” Raimi said. “He was so original, but when we had that moment in ‘Spider-Man 2,’ I had no idea that we would ever be making a ‘Doctor Strange’ movie, so it was really funny to me that coincidentally that line was in the movie. I gotta say I wish we had the foresight to know that I was going to be involved in the project.”

Well there ya have it, folks. Sam Raimi is officially returning to the Marvel universe. I for one am very happy to see him return, as I was a big fan of both Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. However, he did also lead the widely panned Spider-Man 3, a film that was so universally mocked that Sony was forced to reboot the series with Andrew Garfield. We’ll have to wait and see how Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness pans out, but at the moment, I for one am very excited to see what Raimi does with the elusive sorcerer. At the very least, Disney has a better track record when it comes to studio interference than Sony does. 

What do you guys think? Are you excited to see Sam Raimi return to the Marvel universe, or would you rather he just left behind the web he weaved? Whatever you think, comment below, let me know. 

– David Dunn

SOURCE: ComingSoon.net, CNET 

‘Borderlands’ Movie Nabs Eli Roth As Director

Well, depending on your viewpoint, this is either wonderful or horrible news for the Borderlands movie.

On Thursday, Gearbox Software President Randy Pitchford announced via Twitter who would be directing the upcoming live-action Borderlands movie based on Gearbox’s critically and commercially acclaimed video game series of the same name. That director is none other than the horror head honcho himself, Eli Roth.

Eli Roth is a strange, albeit oddly appropriate, choice to helm the upcoming dystopian action movie. Following a group of vault hunters on the planet Pandora trying to find long-lost treasure, Borderlands has spawned a series of sequels, spinoffs, and even an off-kilter marriage proposal, all while creating a massive cult following of fans. With the level of popularity and prominence Borderlands has amassed, a film adaptation of the science-fiction franchise almost seemed inevitable. 

Unfortunately, video game movies don’t have the best track record, even with the recent successes of Detective Pikachu and Sonic The Hedgehog. That being said, a Borderlands movie could definitely work, if given the right director to handle it.

Whether Eli Roth is the right guy or not is very dependent on which Eli Roth you’re getting. I won’t deny that Roth has delivered some solid horror movies in the past: his debut Cabin Fever was an amusing homage to B-movie horror cinema, while Hostel delivered a wildly disturbing yet entertaining slasher flick. But his larger filmography is mostly unimpressive, with the Death Wish remake simply being a vacant and cliche revenge thriller while the cannibalistic Green Inferno was just gross and stomach-churning. Even 2018’s The House With A Clock In Its Walls was a generic and uneventful family comedy.

Top that all off with the fact that he doesn’t have much experience with CGI-heavy films to begin with, and what you have left is a big, fat “huh?” in regards to his involvement with this movie. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to bring in a filmmaker that has more experience with CGI and dry, smirking banter? Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn, for instance, would have been a perfect fit were it not for the fact that he’s busy working on Suicide Squad 2. David Leitch would have been another solid choice, considering his work on other high-octane and witty action flicks such as John Wick, Deadpool 2, and Hobbs & Shaw. Heck, Quentin Tarantino would have been a great pick as well if he ever got his mind off of Kill Bill: Vol. 3 and his adaptation of Star Trek.

What do you guys think? Do you think Eli Roth is a reliable choice for a Borderlands movie, or do you think Claptrap and crew deserved more? Comment below, let me know.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: Kotaku, IGN

‘Knives Out 2’ Confirmed For Production

While it won’t walk away with any gold on Oscar night this weekend, Knives Out will still have one thing that most of the Best Picture nominees won’t have: a sequel.

After sweeping up audiences off of their feet this past Thanksgiving, Knives Out will return to the big screen with an all-new case to solve. According to writer-director Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Knives Out 2 will feature a new story and an all-new cast. The only element that will be consistent between the two films will be Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc, who will presumably return in the sequel to solve yet another mind-boggling mystery.

I have two different reactions to hearing about this news. My gut reaction is excitement, since Knives Out is one of the most clever, meticulous, and ingenious films not just from the year, but from the decade. How many other films have a cast as outstanding and memorable as this one? How many other mystery-thrillers have a plot as dizzying and well-crafted? How many quality who-dun-its like this even grace the screen any more? Watching Knives Out felt like a chess match playing out in real time, with characters moving across the board trying to get each other at such a quick pace that you’re constantly trying to anticipate what their next move will be. It’s hands down one of the most brilliant films of the year, and hearing that a sequel is underway is exciting at first.

But then you marinate over the fact that this will be a new story with a new cast attached to it. No Harlan Thrombey. No Marta Cabrera. No Hugh Ransom, Linda Drysdale, Joni, or Walt Thrombey. It will be an all-new scenario with an all-new cast of characters, which in turn means that this really will be an all-new film.

I’m down for yet another Christine Agatha-themed mystery thriller with Rian Johnson at the helm. After all, he already proved he could do it masterfully with the likes of Knives Out. But since most of the film is presumably going to be so different from the original, why have it related to Knives Out at all in the first place? Why not just set up a new scenario with an all-new detective who isn’t Benoit Blanc and have them solve the new mystery? Why have it be connected to Knives Out at all? That feels like it might hinder the film more than help it, especially when you’re comparing two mystery thrillers released so closely together.

What do you think? Are you excited that Knives Out is getting a sequel, or do you think Rian Johnson should turn the page on a new mystery? Comment below, let me know.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: Deadline, SiriusXM

 

‘Doctor Strange’ Director Drops Out Of ‘Multiverse Of Madness’

In a strange twist (pun intended), there’s been a commensurate shakeup in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson will not return to helm the highly-anticipated sequel.

After the original Doctor Strange burst onto the scene in 2016 and grossed over $677 million at the box office, a lot of eyes were on Benedict Cumberbatch to reprise the role and see where the franchise was heading. After two stellar appearances in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, it seemed like there were a lot of exciting possibilities of where the Sorcerer Supreme would go from here.

Well wherever Doctor Strange is going, director Scott Derrickson won’t be going with him. Variety reports that the filmmaker dropped out from helming the doctor’s sequel In The Multiverse Of Madness after sharing creative differences with Marvel Studios, though he will still remain on the project as an executive producer.

“Marvel Studios and Scott Derrickson have amicably parted ways on ‘Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness’ due to creative differences,” Marvel said in a statement to Variety. “We remain grateful to Scott for his contributions to the MCU.”

As far as creative differences go, I’m relatively confident at what the biggest disagreement was: the fact that Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness was supposed to be a horror movie rather than the usual Marvel superhero-fantasy romp. Derrickson previously stated that he wanted to bring the supervillain Nightmare into the sequel, an omnipresent being that feeds on people’s bad dreams. With Derrickson’s filmmaking roots based heavily in the horror genre (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister) there were tons of potential for which new directions he could have taken the character and the franchise. Sadly, Marvel and Disney are not really well known for being non-family-friendly. The falling out seemed almost inevitable. I’m just sad Derrickson won’t be able to direct Marvel’s first quote-unquote “horror movie” in the MCU.

That begs the question of what will happen to the sequel now? Well we know Elizabeth Olson is still set to reprise her role as the Scarlet Witch in the sequel, and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Baron Mordo is also anticipated to make an appearance. Other than that, everything else is up in the air. A lot of fans are throwing out the possibility of other horror filmmakers taking the reins, such as Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan, Insidious director James Wan, and Pan’s Labirynth director Guillermo Del Toro. Considering their past successes with comic book movies such as Blade II, Hellboy, and Aquaman, any one of these filmmakers would be perfect for Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. It’s just a matter of whether Disney and Marvel want to go to those dark, opaque places those filmmakers have gone in the past.

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness is currently scheduled for release on May 7, 2021. 

– David Dunn

SOURCE: Variety, We Got This Covered

Joaquin Phoenix Set To Return For ‘Joker’ Sequel

SOURCE: Warner Bros. Pictures

“If I’m going to have a past, I prefer multiple choice.”

Those were the words Joker said to the Batman during one of their many scuffles in the pages of Alan Moore’s 1988 hit “Batman: The Killing Joke.” Now, it looks like those words are becoming reality as Joaquin Phoenix is set to return as Arthur Fleck, a.k.a. the Joker for an upcoming sequel to his recent movie.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone, as not only did Joker become the second highest-grossing Batman movie of all time at one billion dollars, but it is also the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time, period. A sequel seemed almost inevitable in the face of all of that commercial and critical success.

Still, many fans were surprised to find that The Hollywood Reporter revealed that not only was Joker getting a sequel, but much of the original cast and crew was returning to head it up: including director Todd Phillips and actor Joaquin Phoenix. This is especially surprising because Phillips previously stated that Joker was intended as a standalone movie with no future installments planned. But throw enough money at something, and I guess it’s destined to get a sequel. After all, Toy Story 4 was released earlier this year.

My first thought with this is that I don’t want a Joker sequel, nor do I need one. Joker was a brilliantly self-contained movie that delved deeply into one of the comic’s most iconic characters. Yes, it was a comic book movie, but in many ways, it was a character study on the effects on mental illness, civil unrest and wealth inequality. Like The Dark Knight, Joker wasn’t just a great comic book movie: it was a great movie period, and I feel like people both familiar and unfamiliar to the comics could appreciate it.

With a planned sequel underway, I question not only how much material is leftover that you can put into it, but also how appropriate it might be in a sequel. Imagine, for instance, if Taxi Driver ever got a sequel, or Apocalypse Now, or One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Wouldn’t a sequel have seemed redundant to those movies? Wouldn’t it have robbed from the original cinematic experience that you were grateful to be a part of? That is my gut reaction to hearing that Joker is getting a sequel – although I am nevertheless excited to see Joaquin Phoenix reprise the role.

What do you guys think? Are you excited to see Joaquin Phoenix return as the Joker, or do you wish he’d stay locked up in Arkham Asylum? Comment below, let me know.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline

‘The Batman’ Casts Riddler, Catwoman and Commissioner Gordon

Batman’s rogue’s gallery is starting to pile up for his newest cinematic outing.

Ever since Matt Reeves took over as director in 2017, Warner Bros.’s newest Batman movie has been shrouded in nothing but secrecy. First, it was rumored that Ben Affleck would reprise the role of Batman and would go up against Jared Leto’s Joker, but that rumor fell apart quickly once Affleck officially left the project earlier this year. Then Robert Pattinson, most known for Twilight fame, was cast as Bruce Wayne in Affleck’s place. Now the movie is confirmed not to be another origin story, but rather a neo-noir crime thriller with several villains stacked up against the caped crusader.

Well, we can now confirm at least two names that the Batman will be going up against. The first will be Edward Nygma, a.k.a. The Riddler, who tricks and manipulates the Batman through his several riddles and puzzles. The Hollywood Reporter earlier confirmed that Paul Dano, the fantastic actor behind movies including Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood, and Love & Mercy, will be portraying Edward Nygma in the upcoming superhero flick.

But Dano isn’t the only big name attached to the project. Zoe Kravitz, the spitfire woman behind roles in movies including X-Men: First Class, Divergent, and Mad Max: Fury Road was also confirmed earlier this week to be playing Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman. Anne Hathaway was the most recent actress to portray the feline Fatale in Christopher Nolan’s 2013 epic The Dark Knight Rises. Interestingly enough, this is Kravitz’s second time to portray Catwoman, as she first provided her voice for the character in 2017’s The Lego Batman Movie.

Finally, Jeffrey Wright, the actor behind films including The Hunger Games and the newest James Bond movies, and television shows including “Boardwalk Empire” and “Westworld,” will be portraying Commissioner Gordon in the upcoming flick. Since its unclear when exactly the film takes place, Gordon could be either a friend or foe to Batman depending on how long Bruce has adopted the cowl. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what Robert and Jeffrey’s chemistry will be like and how they work together in the film.

Overall I’m very pleased with these casting developments. Paul Dano is a highly underrated actor and has consistently put out great performance after great performance. Him playing the Riddler is pitch-perfect casting, although I would have loved to have seen what Jonah Hill might have done in the role before he exited the production. Zoe Kravitz is just as intriguing as Catwoman. Although she’s been in several high-profile movies, she hasn’t really been given a role as prominent as this. It’ll be exciting to see what she potentially does in the role and how she plays with Robert Pattinson’s Batman.

The most perplexing to me is Jeffrey Wright. While he’s a talented actor and a great pick for Commissioner Gordon, it’s unclear how he fits into the larger DC Extended Universe. Early on in production, The Batman was pitched as sort of a prequel to Ben Affleck’s Batman in Justice League. But as everyone already knows, J.K. Simmons portrayed Commissioner Gordon in that film and he and Jeffrey look nothing alike. Does that basically confirm that this is a standalone reboot and not attached to the DCEU? Only time will tell whether it is for sure.

What do you guys think? Are you excited that the cast is growing for The Batman? What are your thoughts on some of these casting choices? Comment below, let me know.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter, Variety

Spider-Man Back In The MCU… For Now.

SOURCE: Sony Pictures

He’s back, everybody. It may be only temporarily, but for the moment Spider-Man is back in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Sony Pictures left fans with a scare last month after the studio failed to renegotiate their contract with Walt Disney for the webhead’s future with the MCU. Originally, their contract gave Disney a five percent cut of Spider-Man’s earnings while Sony retained exclusive financing, distribution, and creative rights over the MCU’S Spider-Man movies. Talks of renegotiating fell apart, however, when Disney proposed a new deal that included a 50/50 co-financing agreement. Sony wasn’t satisfied with that proposal and wanted to stick with the terms of the original agreement. After neither Sony or Disney could reach a compromise, negotiations fell apart and Spider-Man was excluded from the MCU.

That all changed Friday when Sony and Disney reached a new deal to temporarily keep Spider-Man within the MCU. According to Variety, the new agreement includes a 75/25 co-financing agreement between the two studios. The new agreement allows Tom Holland to appear in a third Spider-Man movie, as well as another Marvel movie outside of his own series.

Fans that were in an uproar over last month’s developments should be able to breathe with a sigh of relief now that this new deal has gone through. With this new agreement secured between Sony and Walt Disney, Spidey will now be able to conclude his arc throughout his trilogy, as well as potentially appear in the fifth Avengers movie whenever that’s slated to come out. However, just because Spidey’s now back in the MCU doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever. It’s important to remember that while Sony and Disney have reached a temporary deal, that deal is temporary. It’s up to Sony and Disney to negotiate future Spidey appearances within the MCU after he’s appeared in his third movie and another Marvel movie, as well as what that partnership may mean going forward.

The third film in Tom Holland’s Spider-Man trilogy is scheduled for release on July 16, 2021.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: Variety, IndieWire

Keanu Reeves Returns To ‘The Matrix’

Those within The Matrix just took the red pill once again, and they’re seeing how deep the rabbit hole goes the fourth time around.

Variety first broke the news that Lana Wachowski, one of the original writers and directors behind the very first Matrix movie, has been contracted to write and direct a fourth film in the sprawling sci-fi series. Not only that, but actors Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are slated to return, reprising their roles as Neo and Trinity respectively from the visually dazzling action franchise.

This news just suddenly came out of left field and wasn’t really expected by anybody. While The Matrix is one of the most iconic and popular franchises of all time, won four Academy Awards, and grossed over one billion dollars at the box office, they haven’t released a sequel since 2003’s Matrix Revolutions, which opened to a lukewarm box office response and critical reception. Since that time, there was no interest expressed by Lana, Reeves, or Warner Bros. at the possibility of exploring a sequel, not to mention what that would even look like 15 years later.

Regardless, Matrix 4 is happening, and I have so many questions. First of all, what implored Lana to come back to this franchise? Ever since she and her sister Lilly concluded their trilogy in 2003, they’ve gone on to work on several high-profile and visually dynamic projects, not the least of which including V For Vendetta, Speed Racer, Ninja Assassin, Cloud Atlas, and Jupiter Ascending. At this point, I presumed the Wachowskis were more interested in working on original projects rather than returning to familiar territory. What suddenly urged Lana to change course and suddenly go back into The Matrix?

Speaking of which, where is Lilly in all of this? Throughout their entire filmography, Lana and Lilly went together like two peas in a pod, like peanut butter and jelly, like Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Having Lana work on this project without her sister is just unusual. It’s like the Coen Brothers working together for years on several projects including Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and No Country For Old Men, and then suddenly Joel broke away from Ethan to direct The Ballad of Buster Scruggs all by himself.

I am enthralled to see Keanu Reeves returning to this franchise. While Reeves found mainstream success in playing Neo for The Matrix, he wouldn’t hit another high-profile role for several years until he would play John Wick in his self-titled action movie in 2014. Since then he’s gone on to play in two more John Wick movies, voicing the titular cat in the 2016 Key and Peele comedy Keanu, and would even voice Duke Caboom in the more recent Toy Story 4. He’s hit a huge success spurt as of late, and I’m excited to see Keanu return to one of his more recognizable roles that he’s obviously done so well in. Plus, it’s always cool to see the internet’s favorite boyfriend pop up on the big screen.

Overall, I’m very excited about this announcement. Surprised, yes, cautious, absolutely, and I definitely want to see where these developments will lead Neo and his crew. But more than anything else, I’m eager to see what this new chapter will bring for Neo and everyone else within The Matrix.

What do you guys think? Do you take the blue pill and believe whatever you want to believe, or do you take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes? Comment below, let me know.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: Variety, The Verge

Sony Rips Spider-Man Away From The Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Spider-Man is no more.

After two successful solo movies and three appearances in the most recent Avengers and Captain America movies, the future looked bright for the MCU’s newest wall-crawler. With his most recent sequel grossing over a billion dollars at the box office, several other planned installments on the way, and a teased future appearance from famed Spider-Man villain Kraven the Hunter, it looked like Marvel was going to keep pumping out as much Spider-Man as they could for years to come.

Unfortunately, Spider-Man’s journey with the Marvel Cinematic Universe just came to an abrupt end this past Tuesday. Deadline first reported that after Walt Disney and Sony Pictures failed to renegotiate their contract, all negotiations fell apart and Sony is effectively moving forward with the Spider-Man franchise without Disney.

This means that Spider-Man will no longer be involved with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and will operate completely separate from any future Avengers movies. In short, this essentially means Tom Holland’s Spider-Man as we know it is over.

The legality behind this is a little more than slightly complicated, so let me try and break it down for you. Back when Captain America: Civil War was still in development in 2015, the infamous Sony Pictures leak revealed that Sony was in active negotiations with Walt Disney to share licensing rights for Spider-Man so he could appear in Civil War and future MCU movies. After much back-and-forth, Sony and Disney agreed to a deal that would allow Spider-Man to appear in both his own solo movies and larger MCU features, including Civil War and the last two Avengers movies. The deal would still allow Sony to finance, distribute, and exercise creative control over their exclusive Spider-Man movies, but Disney would share a five percent cut of the film’s revenue and retain the right to use him in separate movies.

So what happened to make that deal collapse? To put it simply, Disney wasn’t satisfied with the original agreement and wanted to renegotiate its terms with Sony. Instead of Sony retaining its exclusive rights over the Spider-Man movies, Disney wanted to split financing and distribution with Sony right down the middle and negotiate a 50/50 co-financing agreement between the studios. This would presumably include Disney taking a larger cut of the Spider-Man movies’ box office earnings. Sony was not satisfied with this proposal and outright refused it, instead proposing to keep the terms of the previous agreement as they were originally introduced. Disney refused their proposal and sent negotiations through the ceiling, essentially pitting both studios into a standstill.

What does this mean for the web-head? The immediate effect is that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is now completely divorced from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since a deal was not reached, Tom Holland can no longer appear in any of the future Avengers movies or any other solo movie existing within the MCU. Holland technically could continue in his own solo series, but there would have to be zero mention or inference to pre-existing events or people in the MCU. Since his character is so heavily influenced by Iron Man, Captain America, and the rest of the Avengers, that would make a third Spider-Man movie featuring Holland incredibly complicated to make.

Another possibility is that Holland’s Spider-Man could now potentially appear in Sony’s spinoff superhero movies, including the Venom series and next year’s vampire movie Morbius. But again, there would have to be no inference to the MCU or the events preceding his appearance. He essentially operates completely outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe from this moment forward.

I have several emotions at this bit of news. My first reaction is shock. Then anger. Then red-hot-burning rage. And then a deep blue depression. But I try to look at this through several different lenses, and I have to remember that these franchises are as much a business model to these movie studios as they are stories in their own right. So, let’s look at it from an economic perspective.

First of all, it’s completely understandable that Disney would want to renegotiate terms for Spidey’s licensing rights. Thanks to incorporating Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel’s two Spider-Man movies have been among the most successful of the web-head’s career. Not only have Spider-Man: Homecoming and Far From Home become among the most critically acclaimed Spider-Man movies of all time, but they’ve also become their highest grossing. Homecoming became the third highest-grossing Spider-Man movie at $880 million, just a few million shy of Spider-Man 3’s $890 million. Meanwhile Far From Home became the first movie out of the franchise to break over one billion at the box office. His appearances outside of his own movies have also boosted his profile nicely, with Captain America: Civil War grossing over a billion dollars and both Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame grossing over two billion. Disney’s involvement only helped put Spider-Man on the map. No matter how you put it, Disney’s contribution was good business for Sony.

That makes Sony’s hostility to not work with Disney even less sense, especially since all their agreement has done is help boost one of their most prominent and successful franchises. Is 50 percent a little much? Possibly, and I can sympathize with resisting Disney’s monopolistic urges. Still, you couldn’t have found any way to make it work? Nothing? Nothing at all? Fox made over $52 billion for selling its media properties to Disney and made a heckuva big payload for doing so. Sony got to retain a majority of its licensing and distribution rights for Spider-Man, and you still didn’t find a benefit for trying to work with Disney? Really?

Sure, it’s possible Sony and Disney could come back to the drawing board and work out a new deal that would work to the benefit of both companies. I wouldn’t bet my chips on it, however. Not with Sony’s stickler hands trying to retain the rights of several other Spider-Man characters that it owns, including Venom, Black Cat, Silver Sable, Silk, Nightwatch, and several others. If anything, Sony would probably use the Spider-Man character to draw out appeal for its other spinoff franchises that they’re trying to launch. Would that work as well as featuring Spidey in his own original series? Probably not, but you wouldn’t have much success trying to tell Sony that.

And through this all, my biggest frustration is that Spider-Man’s story with the MCU will go on unresolved. Tom Holland won’t get to experience the full semantics of what it’s like being a friendly neighborhood superhero in the large and sprawling MCU. John Watts won’t get to explore the full scope of what Peter Parker would grow up to be like in a world without Tony Stark. All of the potential and all of the stories that could have been told with this new Spider-Man suddenly will no longer be possible, and the Avengers won’t get to experience one last adventure with the amazing web-slinger.

That’s what hurts the most about this development. Not the fact that it ended: the fact that it didn’t get the ending it deserved at all.

What do you guys think? Did Sony screw up by not trying to find a way to make things work with Disney, or do you think this frees the web-head up for new possibilities? Comment below, let me know.

– David Dunn

SOURCE: Deadline, Variety