What the Success of ‘Venom’ Means for the Spider-Man Franchise

Are the Avengers about to lose Spidey?

Venom Tom Hardy Spider-Man
Will the MCU bid adieu to Spider-Man next year? Sony

Tom Hardy’s Venom is on the cusp of crossing $200 million domestically and surpassing $550 million worldwide this weekend. Financially speaking, the movie’s total earnings more than justify a sequel. Despite the savage critical reception to the film, it appears as if Sony finally has a foundation for its shared cinematic universe of Marvel characters. Unfortunately for the fans, that might complicate the involvement of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man in Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Earlier this decade, Sony rebooted the Spider-Man franchise with Andrew Garfield in the lead, hoping to spin it off into its own Marvel-verse. But after two lackluster efforts and waning audience support, the studio agreed to share the rights to the character with the MCU, opening the door for Holland’s new iteration to join the Avengers. That initial pact was for six films, which will be met after the trilogy-capping sequel to Spider-Man: Far From Home. Though the two sides can always negotiate more appearances, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Sony keep Spider-Man in-house for its own shared universe and away from the the competition.

“If it had failed, there is a chance Sony would have definitely returned to the bargaining table with Disney (DIS). Now, that’s up in the air,” Exhibitor Relations’ senior box-office analyst Jeff Bock told Business Insider. “[Sony] took a calculated risk with Venom, and it’s now going to be a series. It seems Disney needs Sony’s Spider-Man more than Sony needs Disney…If they consistently make films audiences want to see, Disney will have to buy Sony to get Spider-Man back. This is just the beginning of Sony’s reemergence as a studio of box-office distinction. They’re not giving it up without a fight.”

Sony is moving full steam ahead with its Marvel-verse with Jared Leto’s Morbius currently in development and plans for Silver Sable and Black Cat. Even though Venom was not connected to the MCU, Sony opted for a PG-13 version of the character in order to preserve the property’s crossover potential with the family-friendly web head. Ideally, the studio would love Holland to appear in multiple Spidey spinoffs. This strong box office start will likely embolden executives to reclaim full control.

“A half-billion dollars in revenue for Venom worldwide proves that this is no fluke, and despite a critical drubbing, the film has found great favor with audiences who are fully vested in the Spider-Man brand as well as their embracing of Tom Hardy,” Comscore senior analyst Paul Dergarabedian said.

What the Success of ‘Venom’ Means for the Spider-Man Franchise