Sony Once Turned Down The Opportunity To Buy Movie Rights To All Marvel Characters For Only $25 Million

Disney has managed to assemble most of the Marvel characters under one roof, but it turns out Sony had the chance to do it first.

That's right, the studio behind the Spider-Man franchise could have had way more than just the webhead (via The Wall Street Journal). It all started back in 1998 when Sony was attempting to secure the film rights to Spider-Man from Marvel. At the time Marvel was far from the goliath it is now in the film world and had just started making film deals. They were also right out of bankruptcy, and that resulted in a huge offering of IP.

Sony Pictures executive Yair Landau met with Marvel about the rights to Spider-Man. They already had the DVD rights but wanted the full film rights. New Marvel chief Ike Perlmutter made him a surprising counter offer, where Sony would not only take Spider-Man but also pretty much every other Marvel character, including Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, and Black Panther. That deal would cost Sony $25 million...and they balked.

After Landau took the offer back to his bosses at Sony, they quickly shot it down. “Nobody gives a sh—about any of the other Marvel characters," Landau recalled. "Go back and do a deal for only Spider-Man.”

So they did, and a deal was made. Marvel sold Spider-Man to Sony for $10 million, plus 5% of any movies' gross revenue and half the revenue from consumer products. Marvel was a bit desperate for cash at the time, so that might have seemed like a win on their part, but Perlmutter's business partner Avi Arad didn't think so, calling the deal "pitiful". Those first few films would be quite profitable for Sony, but eventually, the franchise lost its way a bit, resulting in a deal much later that allowed Marvel to produce the franchise, which brought fans Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Now, there was no way for Sony to know that characters like Iron Man, Captain America, and the Hulk would such massive draws, especially at the time. Still, that must sting a little, especially looking at what Marvel Studios has been able to build in the years since.

Net up for Marvel is Black Panther, which hits theaters on February 16.

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