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For a little while late in the summer of 2019, Spider-Man's movie future was very much up in the air. Reports of talks breaking down between executives at Sony Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures seemed to spell the end of the character's current big-screen incarnation as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and fans wondered how the webslinger could recover. Thankfully, Disney and Sony ultimately worked things out, setting up a new deal that includes a third Tom Holland-starring Spidey flick coming in 2021 and one other major MCU appearance.
So, what do Spider-Man's big-screen adventures look like beyond that? We don't know, but Sony's Tom Rothman and Disney's Alan Horn seem hopeful.
Rothman and Horn were part of The Hollywood Reporter's recent studio executives roundtable discussion, and because the two of them were sitting across the table from one another the topic of Spider-Man did eventually come up. Horn and Rothman both chose their words carefully when discussing the dispute — reportedly the result of renegotations after Sony allowed the character to join the MCU with Captain America: Civil War back in 2015 — and Rothman in particular chalked much of the hand-wringing up to the news cycle, and not the actual negotations.
"News cycles and the rhythm of negotations do not necessarily overlap," Rothman said. "I think that this is, in the words of Shakespeare, a consummation devoutly to be wished, and I think we would have gotten there. The news got ahead of some things."
"I agree with that," Horn replied.
When reports of the Disney-Sony standoff first surfaced, the situation seemed rather dire, but over the course of a few weeks optimism started to peek through. Spider-Man himself, Tom Holland, got in on the talks with a call to Walt Disney Company head Bog Iger, and fans continued to hope in a very public fashion that the two studios wouldn't cut Spidey's current incarnation short. According to Horn, the fan outcry had a major role to play in resolving the issue.
"The fanbase, which is important to all of us, seemed to really respond to what Tom [Rothman] and his folks had done before with our people, and they like it," Horn said. "They like the fact that the MCU and Kevin Feige were involved and we heard feedback out there that suggested joining forces once again was probably really a good idea."
For the moment, Spider-Man's life in the MCU is only guaranteed to extend into two more films, including a sequel to Spider-Man: Far From Home and one other MCU appearance that has yet to be named. Neither Rothman nor Horn were willing to discuss specifics, but when asked by moderator Matthew Belloni if he felt the relationship would continue beyond those films, Rothman's response was simple and direct.
"I hope so," he said.
"I think this was a classic win, win, win," Rothman continued. "I think it was a win for Sony, I think it was a win for Disney, and I think it was a win for the fans."
The still-untitled third film in Holland's Spider-Man series is set to hit theaters July 16, 2021.