Spiderman’s Golden Balls Dilemma

Sorry, the title was irresistible.

There is a game show in the UK called the Golden Balls. It’s actually an interesting concept. It’s based on the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Two strangers are the contestents and they work together throughout the show to build the pot. But at the end of the show they are given one final choice. Steal or Split

Here’s how it looks. Behold the power of Gamma vs Delta.

Why do I bring this up?

Well, its the position that Disney and Sony find themselves in regarding Spiderman.

Right after Spiderman Far From Home came out Disney is rumored to have made Sony Pictures an offer. $5 billion for the entire Spiderverse. Which is one billion more than Mickey the Great and Terrible paid for Marvel. Admittedly, those were the Marvel properties that no one had been willing to buy back when Marvel was bankrupt but still it’s 5 billion for a single character and his friends.

Sony is supposed to have said, make it $10 billion and we’ll think about it.

I don’t blame Sony for playing hardball. Dickering with Disney is like negotiating with the Deathstar. And Spiderman Sony’s best franchise. The only other two things they’ve got are James Bond and that is clearly about to go into a “rebuilding season.” And Jumanji, which is enjoyable but the concept is limited to one more film at best.

Now most you are looking at that and saying to yourselves, “hell, why doesn’t Sony just tell Disney to pound sand?”

Two reasons. First their record with Spiderman on their own is spotty. Second and more importantly, its always a good idea to sell something for a lot money if it looks like you MIGHT LOSE IT FOR NOTHING.

You see these matters are complicated by a very interesting third party. Apple TV Plus, needs a studio film library.

From a previous post of mine.

Which means one of two things, Apple has to either build up their own content production, much like Amazon did (and frankly the time to do that was 2010.) Or buy a studio.

There aren’t too many of those available at this point. The fire sales ended about three years ago. At this point all of the studios are owned by somebody big. So, Apple will have to forget about it.

Except that…

There is one major multi-national that might like to get out the movie business.

Sony’s Vue has been a series of rolling disasters for years. It started with the very confusing name of Sony PlayStation Vue. Which had people that own an X-Box or a Ninetendo going, “well I guess that leaves me out,” even though the service was available on Roku and smart TVs. It never got better from there and at this point you can’t be in the movie business without a streaming service. It’s starting to look like Sony’s view is that, pouring capital into Vue, right when everyone else is starting a streaming service, is throwing good money after bad.

As for the films themselves, Sony Picture’s track record is indifferent. The occasional hit here and there but no healthy franchises, except Spiderman. And they haven’t been able to make a hit out of that without outside help. And that help is now withdrawn.

Lastly, the Sony CEO that viewed Hollywood as his own little hobby has just retired.

Consequently, Sony may be open to a buy out of Sony Pictures.

According to Yahoo Finance, Apple is indeed looking into buying Sony Pictures. This isn’t fanboy speculation, this is actually happening.

So, Spiderman would be working for Apple? You innocently ask.

No, Sony does not own Spiderman, they own a license with several conditions attached to it. One of which being, if Sony pictures gets bought out, all rights revert to the original IP owner. Which is now Disney.

Which brings us back to the Golden Balls Dilemma.

The Split/Steal that favors Sony is to sell Spiderman for $10 billion and then Sell Sony pictures to Apple for god only knows.

The Split/Steal that favors Disney is to pay $0 and get Spiderman for free.

The Steal/Steal was to breakoff negotiations and walk away from the table. This maximized the risk for both parties. Disney needs a new headliner for the Avengers and Spiderman is a perfect and popular fit. Sony was going to have to bare all the development costs for the new Spiderman movies and they could all come to nothing if the deal with Apple goes through.

They finally opted for a renewal of the Split/Split strategy. The old deal was that Disney got 05% of the gross in exchange for 05% of the cost, plus the loan of Kevin Feige. But more importantly Disney got to use Spiderman in the MCU. The new deal puts Disney’s cost/gross at 25%. Which indicates to me that Sony is indeed strongly considering selling out to Apple.

And to give credit where it’s properly due. Here’s where I got the background for this post.

Okay, I’m done here.

2 thoughts on “Spiderman’s Golden Balls Dilemma

  1. Methinks that Sony will raise their price to $20 billion once the Woke MCU flops. The first movie will coast on goodwill from the Infinity Stone arc, but after two or three more movies of Roundhead-style “subverting expectations,” I expect the woke/broke law to assert itself.

    If I were Sony, I’d hold out as long as possible since both of their possible suitors can only get more desperate with time. Also, I thought Venom was decent, and if that counts as a Spider-verse movie, they can keep that going for at least 2 more of those at 6 years apiece under their current deal.


    1. $20 billion is out even Disney’s range. The math barely makes sense at $10 billion. But at twenty you are talking about about having twenty, spiderverse movies making a billion a piece. The MCU as a whole has only grossed about twenty billion from the entire MCU.

      The problem for Sony is that holding out was a limited tactic.

      Past a certain point Disney would have to move on without Tom Holland and they knew it. Also, Sony couldn’t use Tom Holland themselves because of the terms of the contract. Which meant they would have to cast a brand new Spiderman for the 4th time in twenty years.

      Yes, Venom is very definitely part of the Spiderverse. The problem for Sony is that the current deal doesn’t really have six years left.

      Apple can’t wait forever either, they have to have a studio of their own NOW. Which means this whole thing gets settled one way or another this year.


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