Spidey-Cents

Here’s Why Spider-Man’s Movie Future Looks Brighter Than Ever

There’s been a lot of talk about the future of the Spider-Man film franchise in the wake of last summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming reboot. While Homecoming was one of the summer’s best box office performers (and remains one of the year’s top movies, both domestically and worldwide), there’s still a lot of questions about where Spider-man and Sony go from here.

Because let’s be honest, Sony and Spidey have been here before. The web head is no stranger to blockbusting movies and yet Sony has managed to squander that success and run the franchise into the ground not once but twice despite ambitious plans for an entire Spider-Man cinematic universe. It’s the fact that Homecoming has Sony’s accountants rubbing their hands in glee once more that has prompted many fans to wonder if everyone’s favourite wall crawler will suffer the same fate a third (maybe final?) time.

Except thing’s are a little different now.

There is no guarantee Sony won’t mess up again. In fact no one would be wrong to doubt the studio based on their box office batting record in recent years. But that’s the point. Sony needs Spider-Man, perhaps now more than ever before. Every major studio has a franchise or two to keep audiences attention and subsidize other efforts. 20th Century Fox has the X films (with three new titles slotted for release next year alone) while Paramount has Star Trek, Mission Impossible maybe even a renewed Terminator franchise. Universal has the Fast And The Furious films (a seemingly endless gravy train), a powerful animation division that now includes Dreamworks roster of properties on top of the likes of Minions and the Secret Life of Pets. Warner Bros. has the DCEU, it’s budding (and highly lucrative) Conjuring horror-verse, the LEGO animated films and a shiny new Harry Potter franchise.

Then there’s Disney, the king of all franchise studios. The House of the Mouse currently owns Marvel Studios, Star Wars, it’s own amazing in house animation brand (Wreck It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Moana) as well as animated heavyweight Pixar. Not to mention Disney has a treasure trove of fairy tales and cartoon block busters of yesteryear that they’ve been successfully adapting to real life hits, with the likes of the Lion King, Aladdin and Mulan coming up and sequels to the Jungle Book and Maleficent on the horizon.

And while everyone else is revelling in their franchise glory, Sony has nothing. Nothing outside Spidey that is.

The Ghostbusters relaunch fizzled last year and this year’s Jumanji already seems doomed (aside from all the fan hate over remaking a Robin Williams classic, whoever thought it was a good idea to release Jumanji just five days after The Last Jedi and two before Pitch Perfect 3 should be fired). Adam Sandler, once a source of profits for Sony, is now working exclusively with Netflix and since Ice Age has cooled and it doesn’t look like anyone’s still interested in The Smurfs anymore, Sony seems to be pinning its current animated hopes on Angry Birds (but in all honesty, how long can a game that’s well past the height of its popularity continue to be a box office attraction)? And they seem to be in serious jeopardy of losing the distribution rights for James Bond as well.

Sony has a big tent without any poles, which is why it needs Spider-Man so much.

The decision to partner with Marvel and fold Spider-Man back into the larger MCU has worked so far and despite plans to continue incorporating Spidey into the larger Marvel cinematic universe, Sony has resurrected plans for a mini-movie universe. And while I don’t know how I feel about the announced Black Cat/Silver Sable spin off, I’m genuinely curious to see how they handle Venom with Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock. Tom Holland will be pretty busy reprising Peter Parker/Spider-Man this May in Avengers: Infinity War and Homecoming’s sequel slated for July of 2019. But Sony will continue to stretch the frontiers of the web head’s universe in new directions, bringing fan fave Miles Morales to the big screen in an animated feature scheduled for Christmas of 2018.

My point is two fold. Sony staking a lot on Spidey, so in a perfect world they’d invest the appropriate time, money and care to ensure the franchise’s health and appropriate box office returns. But while we don’t live in a perfect world where we could depend on that kind of logic, we do live in world where Marvel (Sony’s new Spidey partner) has built the most successful shared movie universe in Hollywood history and proven time and again it knows what it’s doing. I think we can be reasonably confident Marvel will prevent the web crawler from falling too far off the tracks because he’s a sizeable player in the MCU now. While Sony has displayed some stunning levels of poor judgement, I think we can trust that Marvel will lean over Sony’s shoulder any time they need to make sure Sony keeps its Spidey house in order.

As long as Sony is smart enough to listen (and judging by the success of the partnership so far, they’d be stupid not to) both Spidey and his fans will be the real winners.

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