In just ten short years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has firmly established itself as the highest-grossing movie franchise of all time.
But, while Marvel is now one of the most recognisable and successful brands in the world, it wasn’t always the case – just twenty years ago the company had barely managed to avoid bankruptcy, and had enjoyed little-to-no success when it come to translating their characters to the big screen.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Sony Pictures executive Yair Landau met with Marvel in 1998 to secure the feature film rights to Spider-Man, at which point Marvel offered the studio the film rights to almost every character in their roster for just $25 million.
Taking the deal to his studio bosses, Landau was reportedly told: “Nobody gives a shit about any of the other Marvel characters. Go back and do a deal for only Spider-Man.”
Sony has enjoyed success (commercially, at least) with the Spider-Man franchise, with five movies which grossed just shy of $4 billion before Sony and Marvel struck a deal to rescue the web-slinger following the disappointing Amazing Spider-Man movies and insert him into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Meanwhile, the MCU has pulled in almost $14 billion in the past ten years, and will likely be pushing the $16 billion mark at the end of the year once Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp finish up their runs.
Still, Sony can console themselves with Venom. And Silver & Black. And Morbius the Living Vampire. And if all else fails, they can always dust off that Aunt May solo movie.