Spider-Man to depart Marvel Universe after alleged Sony-Disney dispute

Fans of Spider-Man will be gutted to know that their favourite character is departing the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Disney and Sony Pictures Entertainment were unable to come to an agreement on the new terms of co-financing between both parties.

Currently, Marvel reportedly receives approximately 5% of first dollar gross for Spider-Man films, CNBC reported. However, in recent discussions, Disney requested that future Spider-Man films have a 50-50 co-financing arrangement between both parties. Sony did not agree to the terms and suggested keeping the current arrangement, which Disney disagreed. This resulted in Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios president, being removed from the production of Spider-Man films, CNBC added.

In a statement to Marketing, a spokesperson from Sony Pictures Entertainment said much of today’s news about Spider-Man has “mischaracterised” recent discussions about Feige’s involvement in the franchise.

“We are disappointed, but respect Disney’s decision not to have him continue as a lead producer of our next live action Spider-Man film. We hope this might change in the future, but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him – including all their newly added Marvel properties – do not allow time for him to work on IP they do not own,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that Feige is “terrific” and it is grateful for his help and guidance and appreciate the path he has helped put Sony Pictures on, which it will continue.

Separately, Disney also made headlines when its former accountant, Sandra Kuba, filed a slew of whistleblower tips with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The tips alleged that Disney has “materially overstated revenue for years”, according to MarketWatch.

In particular, staff in the parks-and-resorts business segment have continuously overstated revenue “by billions of dollars” by taking advantage of the weaknesses in Disney’s accounting software, MarketWatch reported. She also claimed that employees putting down revenue for US$500 gift cards at their face value even though guests paid at the discounted rate of US$395.

Quoting Kuba, MarketWatch added that employees would occasionally record revenue twice for gift cards – when they were purchased by guests and when they were used at a resort. She added that the “manipulation” of the accounting software was tough to track down due to flaws in the system.

The whistleblower also said that the company’s revenue for the 2008 to 2009 financial year “could have been overstated by as much as US$6 billion”. In Disney’s annual report filed with the SEC, the company stated that its parks-and-resorts business division amassed US$10.6 billion in revenue in 2009. Marketing has reached out to Disney for comment.

Closer to home, Mondelēz International recorded a “significant boost” in the brand engagement and sales of Oreo, across Southeast Asia, by implementing an agile marketing campaign surrounding the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Using AI-based contextual marketing tools from technology marketing firm SilverPush, Mondelēz was able to drive up Oreo’s brand impressions in the country and substantial sales on eCommerce channels.

Seeing an opportunity to tap into the fanfare surrounding the film and the character’s overall popularity to raise the brand awareness of Oreo, Mondelēz struck a partnership with Marvel to conduct a joint marketing campaign across several markets in Southeast Asia. The campaign sought to bring the association between Oreo and Spider-Man closer, and therefore, to take advantage of the rapid and exponential rise of video consumption across Southeast Asia.

For its campaign across the region, Mondelēz adopted a “softer and unintrusive approach” through contextual marketing. Specifically, the company wanted to deliver impactful messages to the right people at the right time – without breaching the privacy of its target audiences – to improve Oreo’s brand retention and registration. Mondelēz used SilverPush’s Mirrors platform to laser target Southeast Asian Spider-Man fans and related audiences to strengthen their perceived connection between Oreo and Spider-Man.

This campaign was not limited to videos specific to the latest movie; Mirrors detected imagery related to all Spider-Man content, even spoofed ones, and then displayed ads based on real-time detection of objects within the videos.

Nikhil Rao, marketing director – biscuits, SEA, Mondelēz AMEA, Singapore said the campaign avoided the use of brute-force-targeting and using private data of consumers. “It is a far more elegant yet effective means of targeting. We would like to further use this technology to target people based on what they are watching instead of who they are or what their affinities are,” Rao said.

Aniq Syed, category lead – biscuits, SEA, SPARK Vietnam added that Mirrors by SilverPush allowed the company to push the contextual targeting norms to the limits by enabling it to showcase Oreo’s message in a less intrusive way to all audiences interested in Spider-Man content.

“By transcending language and cultural barriers, this technology seamlessly empowered Spiderman fans to spark playful connections with Oreo across six markets in Southeast Asia,” he added.

(Photo courtesy: Spider-Man Facebook page)