We’re a long, long way from the fractional bargaining lines that seemed to be splitting Spider-Man away from Disney’s side of the MCU just a few short years ago. In a new mammoth deal, Sony and Disney have struck an accord that will bring Spidey and a lot of other Sony-backed characters — Marvel and otherwise — over to Disney’s small screen, once their theatrical runs have ended.
Disney and Sony jointly announced the landmark move today as a “platform-agnostic agreement” that will clear the path for Sony’s stable of Marvel characters, as well as other Sony-supported franchises like Jumanji and Hotel Transylvania, to appear on Disney+ and other platforms once their terms on screens both big and small have run their first course.
The deal is set to take effect for theatrical releases from 2022 to 2026. Crucially, though, it also grants Disney “library” access to previously released Sony Pictures titles — which is another way of saying that the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home, set to release on Dec. 17 of this year, still seems eligible to appear at Disney+ (at least at some point) under the terms of the new agreement.
The multi-year deal gives Disney the U.S. streaming and television rights for Sony Pictures’ new movie releases “across Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution’s vast portfolio of platforms including its streaming services Disney+ and Hulu, as well as linear entertainment networks including ABC, Disney Channels, Freeform, FX and National Geographic,” according to the two companies’ press release. The deal comes only two weeks after Sony cleared a similar path for its theatrical releases (including Spider-Man, Uncharted, and Jumanji) to show up in the future at Netflix.
Disney wasn’t shy about stressing just how big a deal it is to get Spidey and his Sony screen friends into its home streaming lineup.
“This landmark multi-year, platform agnostic agreement guarantees the team at Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution a tremendous amount of flexibility and breadth of programming possibilities to leverage Sony’s rich slate of award-winning action and family films across our direct-to-consumer services and linear channels,” Chuck Saftler, head of Business Operations for ABC, Freeform, FX Networks, and Acquisitions in DMED’s Networks division, said in a statement. “This is a win for fans, who will benefit from the ability to access the very best content from two of Hollywood’s most prolific studios across a multitude of viewing platforms and experiences.”
Sony, meanwhile, said the deal is set to assure more fans have more ways of seeing their favorite Sony Pictures movies once they’ve left theaters.
“We are thrilled to team up with Disney on delivering our titles to their viewers and subscribers,” said Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Keith Le Goy, president of Worldwide Distribution and Networks, in the same release. “This agreement cements a key piece of our film distribution strategy, which is to maximize the value of each of our films, by making them available to consumers across all windows with a wide range of key partners.”
Fans with long memories may recall a pivotal moment not all that long ago when Disney and Sony seemed to be heading in opposite directions when it came to giving MCU viewers across-the-board access to Tom Holland’s fan-favorite Spider-Man films. Back in August of 2019, not long after Disney had acquired other Marvel properties through its huge Fox acquisition, the two companies temporarily reached an impasse in allowing Disney the rights to any future Sony-produced films starring Holland in the web-slinger’s suit. Even more alarming, that stalemate also appeared to threaten Holland’s portrayal of Spidey in future Disney-made MCU crossovers.
Thankfully, though, the two giants reached a quick agreement that smoothed over those concerns, and today’s deal irons things out even further. The new accord allows Disney to stream Sony Pictures content following each Sony film’s “Pay 1 TV window,” which serves as the first paid landing spot for post-theatrical movies.
It also gives Disney, via Disney+, Hulu, and other small-screen networks, “enormous programming potential across its platforms and makes them key destinations for a robust collection of Spider-Man films,” the release states. “Notably, the agreement provides Hulu access to a significant number of library titles beginning as early as this June.”
The companies haven’t yet revealed which Sony titles might be heading to Hulu this summer. But with a deal this big, there’s a lot of content on the table, and our Spidey-senses are fully heightened to see where some of Sony’s biggest stars will end up next.