How Spider-Man Movie Rights Work With New Comic Book Releases
Long before Marvel was a billion-dollar powerhouse owned by Disney, the brand was a scrappy little publisher trying to get by. At one point, nearly 30 years ago, this meant House of Ideas was forced to sell or license the movie rights to some of its biggest characters. This is how Fox ultimately got their hands on the Fantastic Four and X-Men families before Disney acquired the company. It was also how Sony was able to secure the movie rights to Spider-Man and his vast library of characters, an arrangement that still stands to this day.
The thing is, Marvel still releases Spider-Man comics every month, though it can’t use the character in Marvel Studios programming without striking a deal with Sony. As a former Marvel attorney tells us, the deal means Sony gets the rights to new characters introduced in the comics, even decades after the deal was first struck.
“I believe the concept is that the Spider-Man universe is whatever appears in the edit, becomes a movie character,” attorney Paul Sark said. “So think of it as if there’s a benefit to having continuity. Comics aren’t static, are they? And that’s what fans love, isn’t it? “As things evolve, storylines evolve. So if you come up with this amazing new character in the comics, Sony, I believe, has the right to use them in their movies if it’s in the Spider-Man family.”
In addition to the Spider-Man movies, Sony has branched out and launched its own universe of Marvel characters. To date, the outfit has released a pair of Venom films and films widely breaded (and grannies) Morbius. by Dakota Johnson Madame Web will soon go into production, and Kraven the Hunter starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson recently wrapped principal photography.
And if Marvel introduces a new character in the next Spider-Man comic, it looks like Sony has carte blanche to make a movie out of it any way the studio sees fit.
Sarker can be heard on his podcast Better call PauI, a weekly program covering the different facets of entertainment law. In the USA, Spider-Man: Homecoming is streaming on Starz while Far from home is on Hulu and No coming home is available for purchase wherever films are sold.
Where would you like to see Spidey appear next? Let us know your thoughts either in the comments section or by hit up our writer @AdamBarnhardt on Twitter to discuss all things MCU!