EXPLAINER: This is why Spider-Man might be swinging out of Marvel Cinematic Universe

Spider-Man: Far From Home (Photo: YouTube)
Spider-Man: Far From Home (Photo: YouTube)

Los Angeles - Marvel's superhero films could lose their most famous character after Sony confirmed Tuesday that talks over its deal to share Spider-Man with the Disney-owned studio have broken down.

Why is that a big deal? Well the Marvel movies have together grossed $22bn 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 only began appearing in Disney-owned Marvel's Cinematic universe after the Hollywood giants struck an almost-unprecedented, and still highly secretive, 2015 deal to co-produce and split profits across the films.

Sadly 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. "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," the Sony spokesman said in a statement sent to AFP.

Why this means the end for Peter taking over from Tony as part of The Avengers: The separation makes it "almost certain" that the character Spider-Man will be absent from crossover appearances in future Marvel films, according to Hollywood Reporter journalist Graeme McMillan.

According to Deadline, which broke the news, Disney had reportedly wanted a 50% split of profits from the web-slinging franchise. 

Why does Disney want a larger slice of pie? Because in financial terms, Spider-Man is one of the most successful superheroes in movie history.

The films starring Tom 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 $8bn worldwide. According to Buzzfeed, Far From Home, just surpassed Skyfall as Sony Pictures' highest-grossing film worldwide of all time, with $1.1bn. The movie - starring Zendaya -  also happens to be the only global mega-blockbuster this year that wasn't financed and released by Disney.

For thier part Sony said the reports "mischaracterised recent discussions," but thanked Feige for "the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue."

The large film studio last year produced an Oscar-winning Spider-Man animation separate from Marvel Studios' domain, as well as a standalone film centered on popular Spider-Man villain Venom.

At Comic-Con last month, Marvel Studios set out a timeline of films and television shows scheduled for the next two years including new outings for popular characters Thor, Black Widow, Doctor Strange and Loki - but none featuring Spider-Man.

Feige is also expected to be busy overseeing new Marvel franchises acquired by Disney in its purchase of 21st Century Fox, which include the popular X-Men.

And if you're hoping for a Deadpool Spider-Man movie Ryan Reynolds has just dashed fans hopes. 

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