It was an ordinary night in the office back in 1962 when Stan Lee saw a fly on the wall. Thinking to himself ‘…if I can get a superhero to stick to walls & make it a teenager with personal problems, that would be cool…’ he gets an idea; Spider-Man. He visits the publishers office only to have his idea dismissed as one of the worst he’s come up with.
Coming to terms with this, Stan nevertheless publishes it on the last issue of a magazine (a segment that gets no attention). He writes it off and decides to come up with new ideas. A month later, the idea of Spider-Man comes knocking on the door. The strong sales indicated a massive surge in interest of the cartoon character. A closer look showed that interestingly, teenagers genuinely resonated with teenage-cartoon characters with superpowers and personal problems.
The Spider-Man films alone have grossed over $6 billion at the global box office. Marvel Studios who owned the character, was licensing its ownership exclusively to Sony for two decades when it filed for bankruptcy in 1996. Sony went on to profit strongly from their first few production of the Spider-Man movies under this agreement. But in 2009, Disney purchased Marvel for $4 billion and fast forward to 2019 with the Homecoming movie grossing $1.1 billion, Disney wanted a bigger piece of the pie. And rightly so.
The licensing agreement between Sony and Marvel was that Sony gets to exclusively use the character. And Disney would get a 5% cut. But this was a 20 year old deal that no longer held value for Disney to be part of. Especially when the producer of the franchise was from Disney’s Marvel division. Effectively, Disney was paying a hefty price for Marvel’s 1996 agreement, loaning out their own Marvel producer, and Spider-Man character, to Sony just to get 5% of the gross revenue.
So when negotiations went sour, Sony kept sole ownership of Spider-Man (under the agreement). Disney withdrew access to their producer, whose ingenuity was arguably the sole reason for the success and revival of Sony’s Spider-Man movies.
But the lucrative profit and hardcore fans surrounding Spider-Man, proved too much for both companies to abandon an agreement. In late September 2019, the two companies reached a deal where;
- Disney will provide 25% of the next Spider-Man film’s financing, but also take 25% of the gross revenue.
- Sony will get to hire Marvel’s producer to continue producing their upcoming films.
- Disney will also be able to get its Spider-Man character back to make the next Marvel Cinematic Universe film.
What was left as a trash idea on the back of a last issue magazine back in 1962, turned out to be a $6 billion dollar asset in 2019. An asset that ran circles around two giant conglomerates at war with each other over its revenue-generating capacity. I thought this was a great story on how a man can sit in his office one night to come up with an idea by looking at a fly on the wall. Only to make giant ripples across generations and deliver a cartoon character as a household name. Take a look at this VIDEO.