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Sony might need an intervention. They are starting to sound like that close friend who was dumped by a harmful ex, yet during every phone conversation, they try to convince you why the abusive person was "misunderstood" and "not really that bad once you got to know them." Instead of a jealous lover, though, Sony is in bed – metaphorically speaking – with Spider-Man, and they don’t want to end the relationship despite warning signs that the relationship is going south.
According to a Bloomberg report, Sony has predicted revenue growth of "as much as 36 percent" over the next three years, due specifically to new Spider-Man movies and content based on the company’s Playstation video game titles. The latter might be true, but the former is a head scratcher. The report goes on to say that Sony "will focus on ‘tent-pole’ movies and TV programs to increase operating income margin to as much as 8 percent from 6.6 percent."
There’s nothing wrong with aspirations. But it’s at this point where we need to remind Sony that its May release, Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, earned less money domestically than its predecessor ($202.8 million versus $262 million for the original). Overseas, the sequel also failed to pass its predecessor, raking in $709 million versus $757 million. And both films earned far less than the Sam Raimi films that ran in theaters from 2002-07. Speaking as someone who really liked what Webb was doing in those movies, it’s impossible not to note that the Spider-Man franchise is trending down, financially, and not suggesting growth over the next three years.
That being said, the Spider-Man films DID cross the $700 million mark globally, so while they aren’t Transformers movies, or Marvel movies (not yet, anyway), they aren’t exactly flops. The films bring in dollars. The problem might be how much the Spider-Man movies cost to make in the current climate. If Sony hopes to turn a significant profit on a Spider-Man film, they need to drastically reduce the cost. They now have a bar to which the movies seem to reach. If they can bring the cost of a sequel down, they can make a nice profit by crossing the $700 million mark worldwide. That’s the first big step.
Secondly, they have to decide what KIND of Spider-Man movies they want to make going forward. We have heard rumors about a Sinister Six movie, a Venom film, and a female-driven Spidey spinoff (maybe even one structured around Aunt May). Based on the content of the story above, Sony still plans on being in the Spider-Man industry for the next few years. I can’t wait until they explain to us how they intend to stay in that business.