NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Sony's (SNE) - Get Report film studio, Sony Pictures Entertainment, has finally worked out a deal with Disney's (DIS) - Get ReportMarvel Studios that could breathe new life into its Spider-Man movie franchise.
The partnership, announced Tuesday, comes as Sony's Japan-based executives are trying to circle the wagons around its beleaguered Los Angeles-based movie studio. Though Sony on Feb. 5 forecast that sales for the quarter ended Dec. 31, will be up 6.1% to $21.14 billion, its revenue was affected by "a significant decrease in sales" at its Sony Pictures business, mainly in motion pictures and television productions.
The full extent of the slide at Sony Pictures won't be known until the company reports earnings on March 31. Sony said that because of last year's email hacking scandal it couldn't close results from Sony Pictures Entertainment in time for its forecast.
Now it has more superheroes coming to the rescue.
In the new agreement jointly announced by Sony and Marvel, Spider-Man will appear in an upcoming movie alongside other superheroes from Disney's stable. Sony Pictures retains ownership and distribution over the release of future Spider-Man movies, but the deal allows for cross-pollination between the studios for content and characters.
This will directly connect forthcoming Spider-Man movies from Sony Pictures with the lucrative and popular Marvel Studios franchises. For instance, Spider-Man movies might get a boost of star power from say Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man or Captain America: The Winter Soldier star Chris Evans. At this time, however, it is unclear which characters will team up with the wisecracking webslinger in the future.
For Disney and Marvel, this clears up some of the confusion of superheroes that originated in print with Marvel Comics appearing in movies produced by other studios. The rights to the Fantastic Four and the X-Men movie franchises remain in the grip of 21st Century Fox (FOXA) - Get Report .
The deal means Sony's Spider-Man movies will no longer compete against Marvel Studios for audience attention. Release dates for four of Marvel's upcoming movies were pushed back, ostensibly making room as Spider-Man becomes part of the family.
Sony's last outing with Spider-Man brought in $709 million worldwide, but still was something of a disappointment compared with its peers among superhero movies. After last year's TheAmazing Spider-Man 2 took its final bow in theaters, Sony Pictures started to rethink its plans for the franchise.
Meanwhile, Sony Pictures has also been trying to save face following the email hacking scandal that precipitated the ouster of studio co-Chair Amy Pascal. As she prepared to step down yet retain connections to Sony Pictures, fresh speculation rose about negotiations with Marvel Studios regarding Spider-Man.
Pascal will be a producer on future Spider-Man movies, a franchise she nurtured and has generated some $4 billion in revenue over 13 years. She will share the producer role with Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios and mastermind of its franchises. The next Spider-Man movie is slated for release in July 2017.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.