In some welcome news for the beleaguered entertainment industry, Spider-Man: No Coming Home, the latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), tore through the box office last weekend. According to reports, the film collected $253 million at the domestic box office for the highest debut of 2021. It also collected $334.2 million in overseas markets for a total of $587.2 million. , making it the third best opener of all time behind Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War.
But The Walt Disney Company (DIS), owners of MCU, probably won’t make a single penny from the box office receipts of the latest Spiderman movie. Instead, the source of profits for this Marvel business will come from merchandise sales.
Key points to remember
- The latest installment in the Spider-Man franchise is setting box office records.
- Disney doesn’t benefit from box office receipts from Sony-produced Spiderman movies, but stands to gain from merchandise sales.
- Typically, merchandise sales for Spiderman films follow box office performance.
A Spidey partnership
Even though Spiderman is part of the Disney-owned MCU, movies starring Peter Parker are produced by Sony Group Corp. (SONY). The Tokyo-based company bought the rights to the web slinger in 1999, when Marvel was an independent entity. As part of the purchase agreement, Marvel received 5% of the total ticket sales of the films produced and distributed by Sony, while the two companies split merchandising revenue.
The terms of this partnership changed in 2011. Marvel had already been acquired by Disney in 2009. Sony, which was in dire need of cash in 2011, reworked the deal and dropped its share of merchandising sales, while Disney gave up its share of the box office receipts.
Generally, merchandise sales for the Spiderman franchise have followed box office receipts. The more successful a Spiderman movie is, the more sales of its products. For example, merchandise sales totaled $397 million after the hit release of Spiderman 3 in 2007. But they fell to $200 million after the unsuccessful launch of The Amazing Spiderman 2 in 2014.
Even during times of dwindling sales, Spiderman has been a moneymaker when it comes to merchandising. The figure’s worldwide retail sales were estimated at $1.3 billion per year in 2014, making Spider-Man the most successful franchise.
The equation between merchandise sales and box office performance bodes well for Disney’s earnings from Spider-Man’s latest installment. Its metaverse theme, which spans different timelines and characters, also provides plenty of licensing opportunities for characters from different stages of the franchise, past and present. The House of Mouse was the world’s largest licensor in 2018, with $54.7 billion in retail sales of licensed products worldwide, according to License Global magazine.