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Product Launch Damage & Sony’s “Sonyverse”

In 2016, Sony dared to ask the question “what if we made a Spider-Man universe without Spider-Man, and only with Spider-Man villains as anti-heroes?” every Marvel fan ever said “what’s the point in that?” The point is money and keeping the rights to making Spider-Man movies. Lets delve into the history of this attempted rival to the MCU.

In the vast landscape of superhero cinema, few characters have enjoyed as tumultuous a journey on the silver screen as Marvel Comics’ beloved web-slinger, Spider-Man. Since the late 1990s, Sony Pictures has held the cinematic rights to the character, leading to a series of adaptations, reboots, and collaborations that have had ups and downs to it, including the Raimi Trilogy, the Amazing Spider-Man Duology, the MCU Spider-Man, and the Sonyverse.

It all began in 1999 when Sony secured the rights to produce Spider-Man movies, along with the characters and villains associated with the iconic hero, such as Venom, Kraven The Hunter, and Morbius. The journey kicked off with director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, which received critical acclaim and box office success with its first two instalments. Spider-Man (2002) had a budget of $139 million and got a box office of $825 million. It was the first film to ever receive $100 million on opening weekend. The highly regarded Spider-Man 2 (2004) had a budget of $200 million and a box office of $789 million. However, the third entry, “Spider-Man 3,” while commercially successful, received mixed reviews due to having so many plotlines with 3 villains that were not woven together well. It had a budget of $250-350 million and made $895 million at the box office. Spider-Man 4 was supposed to have John Malkovich as Vulture, but studio politics and many rejected screenplays were causing issues. This eventually prompted Sony to reboot the franchise.

Enter Andrew Garfield as the titular hero in “The Amazing Spider-Man” duology directed by Marc Webb. Despite initial excitement, the films failed to resonate as strongly with audiences and critics alike. Both films had a budget of $200-$230 million, the first receiving $758 million at the box office and the second making $709 million. There were planned sequels (The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and 4, coming out in 2016 and 2018 respectively) and spinoffs which included one spinoff with The Sinister Six, a team of supervillains Spider-Man would have to fight, and Venom, both of which were teased at the end of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”. Sony found itself at a crossroads, leading to a ground breaking collaboration with Marvel Studios to integrate Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), with Tom Holland donning the red and blue suit.

This collaboration revitalized the character, providing fans with memorable appearances in MCU films alongside three standalone Spider-Man movies directed by Jon Watts. The trilogy did very well at the box office, with “Spider-Man Homecoming” (2017) making $880.2 million on a $175 million budget. The next two films, “Spider-Man Far From Home” (2019) and “No Way Home” (2021) breaking into the billion dollars at the box office, with $1.132 and $1.922 billion on budgets of $160 million and $200 million respectively. Easily the most acclaimed of these movies was No Way Home which brought back both Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire as their respective Spider-Men. Andrew Garfield giving an amazing performance and having fans clamoring for him to return to the role in his own movie again. However, Sony retained certain rights under a deal with Marvel, ensuring they could continue producing Spider-Man films as long as they released one every three years, thus laying the foundation for what would become the Sony verse.

The Sony verse officially launched with “Venom” in 2018, a departure from the traditional Spider-Man narrative that focused solely on the anti-hero Venom, portrayed by Tom Hardy. Hardy plays Eddie Brock, a man on the streets style reporter who comes in contact with an alien creature that gives him powers, a symbiote called Venom. Despite mixed critical reception, the film resonated with audiences, becoming one of the most profitable releases of its year. The double act of Eddie Brock and Venom by Hardy was one of the highlights of the film. Venom was a box office success, earning $856.1 million on a $100-116 million budget. This success signaled Sony’s intention to expand the Spider-Man universe beyond the confines of the MCU.

However, the journey into the Sony verse was not without its challenges. The delayed release of “Morbius,” initially slated for 2020, was pushed back multiple times, raising concerns about the film’s quality and reception, until it came out in April of 2022. A baffled audience went in to see what exactly this movie was about, “Morbius” failed to live up to expectations of “Venom”, receiving harsh criticism from critics while generating mixed reactions from audiences, some of whom ironically celebrated its flaws through memes and online hype. The most popular of these memes being a tweet from Twitter user RANKtOYGO claiming that Morbius says “It’s morbin’ time” before “morbing” (presumably beating up) all over the bad guys. In the actual movie, there were some stark differences from the trailer. For one there’s scenes where Morbius interacts with Michael Keaton’s Vulture from the MCU in an alley way, and in the same alleyway there’s art of Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man. And another scene where Morbius grabs a man and says “I am Venom!”, in a confusing reference to Venom as the movies take place on different sides of the country, and hisses, but then laughs and says “Just kidding I’m Dr Michael Morbius, how can I help?” People dubbed over the movie and it was easy to mock the movie that way, due to Leto’s subdued and wooden performance. The wave of memes convinced Sony to try and re-release the film, not really understanding that it wasn’t really supporting the movie but mocking it. The second go around in the theaters just inspired people to try and convince them to do it a third time via a petition claiming that everyone was really busy that day and would promise to make it to the theaters this time. The movie had a budget of $75-83 million and earned $167 million in the box office.

In the middle of Morbius’ constant delays, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” came to theaters in 2021. Critics and audiences loves it more than the first movie, though it didn’t earn as much in the box office as it’s predecessor, with only $506.9 million being made on a $110 million budget. This movie was about Venom and Eddie’s relationship, taking place about 6 months after the previous movie, and also Cleetus Kassidy, played by Woody Harrelson, a cannibal and serial killer who Eddie interviews before his execution. During the interview he bites Eddie and gets some of Venom too, creating the symbiote Carnage, a notorious enemy of Venom, and together they wreck havoc. Venom and Eddie need to put their differences aside and stop Kassidy and Carnage. Despite not making as much as the previous “Venom” it still managed to be the 7th highest grossing movie of 2021. The film really dug into Venom and Eddie’s relationship, leaning into the chaotic odd couple dynamic they had in the first film. The mid credit scene that has became very popular in many movies, but mostly comic book movies, also had high praise, and let the audience have a brief amount of hope that maybe Venom would come to blows with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. That unfortunately did not come true, at least not yet.

The missteps continued with the release of “Madame Web,” this past Valentines day, a film centered around a lesser-known character from the Spider-Man mythos. In the comics Madame Web is an old woman who is blind, paralyzed, telepathic, clairvoyant and has a chair that doubles as a life support system. She also appeared in the 90s cartoon as an entity between universes who is testing Spider-Man to see if they can stop Spider-Carnage. The movie, featuring a psychic character Casandra “Cassie” Webb with connections to three young Spider-Women and Ben Parker, garnered low critical scores and divided audience opinions, with some labeling it as “funny bad,” a term some affectionately use for films that fall short of expectations but still entertain in unintended ways. The movie has earned $77 million box office on a budget of $80 million, which may not look bad, but is also in order for a movie to break even it generally has to make at least double the budget. Fans are currently wondering when, if at all, Sony realizes this is not a viable approach to Spider-Man media, and maybe if this will be the death knell of this weird Spider-Man-less Spider-Man universe. The Kraven The Hunter movie with Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the titular character, is coming out on August 30th, 2024, unless it gets delayed like “Morbius”.

Despite the ups and downs, the Sonyverse remains a testament to the enduring popularity and cultural significance of Spider-Man. With future projects on the horizon, including spin-offs and potential crossovers, the journey through the Sonyverse continues to intrigue and captivate audiences, perhaps not for being good movies though, showcasing the limitless possibilities of one of Marvel’s most iconic superheroes. At least the people writing the Venom films seem to understand the appeal of the movies.

In conclusion, the Sonyverse represents a fascinating chapter in the history of superhero cinema, marked by experimentation, collaboration, and occasional missteps. While not every venture has been a resounding success, the enduring appeal of Spider-Man ensures that the journey through the Sonyverse is far from over, promising more thrills, surprises, and perhaps even a few laughs along the way, even if Spider-Man fans just want Venom movies and an eventual crossover with Spider-Man.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the Sonyverse is its potential for crossover events and team-up movies featuring characters from across the Spider-Man mythos. While the initial focus may have been on standalone adventures for villains-turned-antiheroes like Venom, there’s ample opportunity to explore the interconnected nature of Spider-Man’s world.

For instance, the success of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” hinted at the possibility of introducing other iconic adversaries like Carnage and potentially setting the stage for larger confrontations between symbiotes and Spider-Man himself. The mid-credit scene teasing a potential clash between Venom and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man generated significant excitement among fans, underscoring the appetite for crossover events that bring together beloved characters from different corners of the Marvel universe.

Moreover, the introduction of characters like Michael Keaton’s Vulture in “Morbius” and the subtle nods to Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man in the same film open up intriguing possibilities for exploring the multiverse and establishing connections between various iterations of the Spider-Man mythos. With the upcoming release of “Kraven The Hunter,” there’s an opportunity to further expand this interconnected web of characters and storylines, potentially laying the groundwork for future team-ups and crossover events.

In addition to exploring new narratives within the Sonyverse, there’s also the potential for collaboration with other studios and franchises, further enriching the tapestry of superhero cinema. The success of collaborations like Spider-Man’s integration into the Marvel Cinematic Universe demonstrates the power of cross-studio partnerships in delivering captivating storytelling and memorable cinematic experiences.

Looking ahead, Sony has the opportunity to continue pushing the boundaries of the superhero genre and captivating audiences with innovative storytelling, compelling characters, and breathtaking action sequences. Whether it’s exploring the origins of classic villains, delving into the complexities of antiheroes, or embarking on epic crossover events, the Sonyverse is poised to remain a dynamic and exciting destination for fans of Spider-Man and the larger Marvel universe.

As the journey through the Sonyverse continues to unfold, fans can look forward to new adventures, unexpected twists, and the timeless appeal of one of Marvel’s most iconic superheroes. Whether it’s swinging through the streets of New York City or venturing into the far reaches of the multiverse, the possibilities are endless in the ever-expanding world of Spider-Man and his adversaries-turned-antiheroes.

Whether it’s building anticipation for upcoming releases, addressing concerns, or celebrating successes, RSquare Media Reputation Management can tailor strategies to ensure that Sony’s Spider-Man films resonate with audiences and leave a lasting impact. By leveraging the power of social media, online forums, and digital platforms, we can amplify the voices of fans and cultivate a community that’s passionate about the Sonyverse.

Contact Rsquare Media’s CEO Rajiv Radhav today to schedule a free consultation so that your movie can turn out better than the Sonyverse!

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