“Captain Marvel / End Title Sequence” by Nadia Tzuo, Takayuki Sato, Gabriel Perez, Carlo Sa
Marvel has become the undisputed champion of the modern box office. It holds 3 out of the 5 spots top spots for the highest grossing films of 2019. It has become so successful that if any of their films fail to join the once elite billion-dollar club it is considered a failure. As if that wasn’t enough, they were finally able to dethrone the self-proclaimed “King of the World”, James Cameron, when Avengers: Endgame became the top grossing film of all time.
So why has Marvel been able to keep smashing box office records, while other studios struggle to keep up? It is undeniable that Marvel has become the biggest brand in Hollywood history. Marvel churns out blockbusters as effortlessly as Meryl Streep gets Oscar nominations. To date it has grossed over $22 billion worldwide while the film rights only cost Disney $4.24 billion. The good news for producer Kevin Feige is that fan interest is the only limit on the size of his bank account. Although Kevin Feige has produced every Marvel film, he isn’t the reason Disney can lay claim to those riches. None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for the decision of an executive at another studio: Sony Pictures.
“Nobody gives a shit about any of the other Marvel characters…go back and do a deal for only Spider-Man.”
In one of the worst business decisions of all time, a Sony executive turned down the greatest movie deal in history. In 1998, Marvel offered Sony the film rights to all Marvel characters for $25 million. The executive who was negotiating with Marvel recalled his boss’ reaction to Marvel’s offer in a Wall Street Journal article. His boss responded by saying “nobody gives a shit about any of the other Marvel characters…go back and do a deal for only Spider-Man.” That Sony executive must wish he had Pym Particles to travel back in time to before he snapped the GDP of Belize out of his pocket with one rash decision.
It is still unclear whether Marvel’s box office successes can continue in the long run as even they have had struggles in the past. It may seem that success is almost guaranteed with the announcements of Phase 4, but this is not true. The 2018 film Ant-Man and the Wasp still failed in comparison to other Marvel films. It was still considered a critical and audience success but did not earn anywhere near films like Spiderman: Far From Home or Captain Marvel. Another challenge Disney faces once again involves Sony. Disney and Sony are currently fighting for the rights to Spiderman. Yet with the unprecedent success at the box office, it would be easier for Disney and Feige to buy out Sony Pictures than to negotiate with the executives that passed on Marvel in the first place.