Six hours after the news broke that Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios had severed their ties and would no longer be jointly producing Spider-Man movies together, Sony has confirmed the reports, placing the blame on Disney for cutting the relationship short and presumably trying to undo some of the public relations (and even financial) damage that has been done as the Internet got worked into a frenzy over the initial reports. They further confirmed that Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige would no longer serve as the lead producer on the franchise -- although that verbage sounds pretty specific and could suggest that he will have a minor advisory role, as he reportedly has had on non-MCU projects like Venom.
In a statement to ComicBook.com, Sony said that they were disappointed, but tried to emphasize that the nature of the breakup has been mischaracterized in early reports.
"Much of today's news about Spider-Man has mischaracterized recent discussions about Kevin Feige's involvement in the franchise," the statement read. "We are disappointed, but respect Disney's decision not to have him continue as a lead producer of our next live action Spider-Man film.
"We hope this might change in the future, but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him – including all their newly added Marvel properties – do not allow time for him to work on IP they do not own. Kevin is terrific and we are grateful for his help and guidance and appreciate the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue."
In the hours since the news broke, fans have been apoplectic. There are already fan petitions to halt it, rumors that it isn't entirely true anyway, and a pretty impressive social media meltdown. At one point tonight, variations on "Spider-Man," "Spidey," "Marvel," and "Sony" were taking up four of the top five U.S. trending spots on Twitter. Sony's stock took a hit following the revelation that the hugely successful Marvel Studios would no longer be welcoming Sony's friendly neighborhood Spider-Man inside the gated walls of the MCU.
According to the initial report on the breakup, the bone of contention is a deal would give Disney a 50-50 stake in the Spider-Man franchise while also bringing Sony's extended universe of Spider-Man movies such as Venom into the Marvel Cinematic Universe proper. Sony turned the offer down outright, presumably preferring to earn 100% of a smaller overall take rather than half of a slightly bigger one.
For now, Spider-Man: Far From Home, the highest-grossing film in Sony's history, is still in theaters (which explains the dip in their stock price after everything blew up online), and will return with a new scene that expands the runtime by 4 minutes in time for a final Labor Day Weekend hurrah.