You won't believe how much Marvel paid to get Spider-Man back

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May 21, 2015, 11:25 AM EDT (Updated)

The deal that Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures struck to have Spidey cross over between studios came with a surprising price tag.

According to Variety, the amount of money exchanged between the two studios was a big fat zero. 

Marvel Studios is not laying out any cash for the right to use Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, The Avengers or other Marvel Cinematic Universe films, while Sony is not going to share any of the box-office earnings from its standalone Spider-Man movies with Marvel. And Marvel won't give up any of the money it rakes in from MCU movies in which Spider-Man appears, either.

That's right: A deal that could have easily seen tens of millions passing from one studio to another is instead costing absolutely nothing. Both studios will keep whatever money they make from their individual movies. Reportedly, Marvel head Kevin Feige, who will produce the next standalone Spidey movie for Sony with former studio exec Amy Pascal, won't even take a fee to do so. There is a chance for Marvel to earn some money from Sony's Spider-Man movies if they reach certain box-office marks -- kind of a bonus, if you will -- but that's all.

How did this happen? Quite simply, both studios understand that the potential financial rewards of allowing Spider-Man to cross over into the MCU and then return to his own movies (via Sony) are huge enough without having to haggle over any money to get the deal going in the first place. Sony needs all the help it can to re-energize its Spider-Man series, and adding Spidey to selected MCU adventures amounts to a nice cup of gravy for the already red-hot Marvel Studios.

Sure, there are many questions to be answered, like who will play Spider-Man, how large a role he'll have in the MCU and what will happen with his proposed spinoff films. There's also always the chance for things to go south somehow. But for the moment, two Hollywood studios actually found a way to work together -- a rare occurrence to begin with -- and if things pan out, everyone will benefit handsomely ... including us, the fans.