Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios will team-up for the future of Spider-Man in film, the companies announced in a press release late Monday night. The new Spider-Man will appear first in an upcoming movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, before breaking off into his own, Sony-Produced, new franchise starting July 28, 2017. The new film will also be co-produced by Amy Pascal, who launched the franchise at Sony Pictures, and Kevin Feige, producer and president of Marvel Studios.
The press release, on Marvel.com, detailed the new deal, saying the two studios are "also exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the MCU into future Spider-Man films."
Disney's Chairman and CEO Bob Iger said of the deal, "Spider-Man is one of Marvel's great characters, beloved around the world. We're thrilled to work with Sony Pictures to bring the iconic web-slinger into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which opens up fantastic new opportunities for storytelling and franchise building."
Feige, meanwhile, says that "Marvel's involvement will hopefully deliver the creative continuity and authenticity that fans demand from the MCU."
He notes personally, "I am equally excited for the opportunity to have Spider-Man appear in the MCU, something which both we at Marvel, and fans alike, have been looking forward to for years."
The press release is careful to note that while Feige and Marvel Studios will be involved in the future Spidey solo flicks, "Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films." This means that it's still up to Sony when the movies come out, and while Marvel Studios will be in the room, Sony can still say "yes" or "no" to individual characters and story ideas. The plus side for Marvel Studios of that arrangement: they don't have to put up the capital for these films, and can continue to focus on everything from Captain America to Dr. Strange to Captain Marvel and beyond as they expand the MCU.
With a first date of mid-2017 for the new Spider-Man film franchise, Marvel Studios has several opportunities to introduce the character. While it's unlikely that 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron or Ant-Man would introduce the new Spidey, 2016 presents two golden opportunities: Captain America: Civil War, based on a comic book story that held Spider-Man as a central character, torn between Iron Man and Captain America, and Doctor Strange, which has been said by Marvel Studios to explore new worlds and dimensions.
The July 28, 2017 release date also raises a question: what about Thor: Ragnarok? The third Thor film from Marvel Studios was announced to have that date locked down in the initial "Phase 3" announcement; while not addressed in this press release, it can be assumed that with Marvel's stake in the new Spidey film, they won't release the two movies on the same day, meaning Ragnarok will shift dates.
The deal between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios was long speculated upon and rumored, not to mention clamored for by fans. After several stops and starts, after Amy Pascal's resignation from Sony, the deal was either finished or had new life, depending on who was reporting on it. Apparently being free of her duties as Co-Chairman at the production company meant she could team with Feige for the next adventure in Spider-Man's web.
Update: Marvel Studios and Disney have announced the new release schedule for their films, based on the Spider-Man news. Four films have new release dates, starting with Thor: Ragnarok, shifting to November 3, 2017. Black Panther hits on July 6, 2018. Captain Marvel moves to November 2, 2018. Finally, Inhumans will now hit July 12, 2019, putting that film after the release of both parts of the two-part Avengers: Infinity War, which keeps its release dates of May 4, 2018 for Part 1, and May 3, 2019 for Part 2.