The custody of Spider-Man will be shared by Sony Pictures and the Walt Disney after the companies signed a deal that means the web-slinging superhero could appear in a future Avengers movie.
The deal comes after Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 under-performed at the box office last year.
Despite a respectable $709 million box office haul, it was the lowest-grossing of Sony’s five Spider-Man films so far.
The character could now appear Marvel films such as Iron Man and Thor.
However, the timing of the deal makes it likely his first outing will be in 2017’s Captain America: Winter Soldier. The character already appears in the comic book version of the story.
Marvel will then co-produce the next solo Spider-Man outing, financed by Sony Pictures, which will be released in 2017.
Kevin Feige, the Marvel boss who has overseen 10 consecutive box office blockbusters, including Avengers Assemble and Guardians of the Galaxy, will be involved in all future creative decisions about Spider-Man.
He will work alongside Amy Pascal, the Sony executive who recently stood down following a cyber-attack that saw her private emails leaked.
Fans have been clamoring for Spider-Man to join Marvel’s roster on the big screen for more than a decade.
The character is part of the Marvel’s comic book empire, but Sony has owned the film rights since 1999, when it paid a reported $7 million.
Evil Dead director Sam Raimi first brought the character to the big screen, with Tobey Maguire in the lead role.
More recently, the series was rebooted, with Andrew Garfield inside the iconic red and blue suit and Marc Webb directing.
The new deal effectively spells the end for Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Peter Parker and his superhero alter-ego, reported the LA Times.
Sony had been casting around for ways to re-invigorate the franchise after his second outing failed to break the $1 billion mark at the box office last May.
A third Amazing Spider-Man film was postponed to 2018, while a spin-off film, The Sinister Six, focusing on Spider-Man’s most notorious enemies, was slated for 2016.
There was also discussion of introducing a female set of heroes in their own films; and a potential film based around Peter Parker’s Aunt May.
At the same time, Sony was holding discussions with Marvel – as revealed in emails leaked as a result of last year’s cyber-attack.
Those emails showed that Marvel was pushing for Spider-Man to appear in the next Captain America movie; while Sony Pictures president Doug Belgrad wanted a Marvel-produced Spider-Man movie in which Sony retained “creative control, marketing and distribution.”
Although those talks were said to have stalled in December, the new announcement effectively fulfils all of those criteria.
It has also led to Marvel reshuffling the release dates of its upcoming movies.
The next Thor movie would have gone head-to-head with a new Spider-Man movie in the summer of 2017. It will now move to November of that year, shunting a film based on the Black Panther character into the following year.
The two-part Avengers: Infinity War movies, however, will not budge.
LucasArts, the games developer responsible for the Star Wars series of games, will be shut down by the Walt Disney Company.
Disney plans to license the Star Wars games brand to other developers.
However, Star Wars 1313, which has already been developed for demonstration at industry events is expected to be halted.
Disney inherited LucasArts in October last year, when it bought LucasFilm for $4.05 billion.
The closure will involve an unknown number of redundancies.
Disney will close LucasArts and plans to license the Star Wars games brand to other developers
Lucasfilm Ltd. spokesman Miles Perkins said it would now focus on licensing its Star Wars brand externally.
A “small team” will remain to handle licensing partnerships.
“Both current Star Wars games projects have been halted,” Miles Perkins confirmed.
LucasArts was founded in May 1982 as the video game development group of Lucasfilm Limited, the film production company by Star Wars creator George Lucas.
The film producer, screenwriter and director wanted his company to branch out into other areas of entertainment, so he cooperated with Atari to produce video games.
Action games Ballblazer and Rescue on Fractalus! were the first results of the collaboration.
Lucasfilm and its interactive games division, is several months into an internal cost-cutting review.
The decision to close LucasArts comes as the developer and publisher, once known for adventure games like Secret of Monkey Island has struggled to produce a hit in an industry currently dominated by action games.
Star Wars creator George Lucas has sold his film production company Lucasfilm to The Walt Disney Company in a deal worth $4.05 billion.
George Lucas said: “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of film-makers.”
In a statement announcing the purchase, Disney said it planned to release a new Star Wars film, episode seven, in 2015.
That will be followed by episodes eight and nine and then one new movie every two or three years, the company said.
The last Star Wars film was 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, and Disney said it believed there was “substantial pent-up demand”.
Disney will pay about half in cash and half in stock, issuing 40 million Disney shares in the transaction.
The deal follows Disney’s acquisitions of Pixar studios for $7.4 billion in 2006 and Marvel comics for $4.2 billion in 2009.
“Our valuation of Lucasfilm is roughly comparable to the value we placed on Marvel when we announced that acquisition in 2009,” Disney said, adding that the valuation was almost entirely driven by the Star Wars franchise.
Star Wars creator George Lucas has sold his film production company Lucasfilm to The Walt Disney Company
George Lucas launched Lucasfilm in 1971 and the first Star Wars film was released in 1977.
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” George Lucas said.
“I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.”
George Lucas will continue as a creative consultant.
Kathleen Kennedy, currently co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become president of the firm and will be the executive producer on the new Star Wars films.
When the later Star Wars films were released in the 1990s and 2000s, although they did well at the box office, they were generally not well-received by fans.
But Josh Dickey, film editor at Variety magazine in LA, said that Disney was a “great fit” to update Star Wars.
“They’re so good at branding and brands. They’re so good at working with existing intellectual property and making it resonate with fans and marketing it very well,” he said.
“They’re not as good at creating original content, except for their Pixar division.
“I think if you bring together the minds from Pixar [and] the minds from Disney, the news that Disney is going to reboot Star Wars was a lot more exciting to fans than just <<there’s gonna be another Star Wars>>.”
Lucasfilm is also the production company behind the Indiana Jones franchise, and fantasy films Willow and Labyrinth.
Michael Corty, analyst at Morning Star, said Disney’s deal was clearly part of a pattern in buying new franchises.
“Pixar was the first big one, then Marvel, and now this one here,” he said.
“Because Lucas is private, I would assume most investors would be surprised.”
The Walt Disney Company has reported higher profits in the second quarter of this year, driven by the success of films such as The Avengers.
Net income for the three months to June rose 24% to $1.83 billion from the previous year.
“We had a phenomenal third quarter, delivering the largest quarterly earnings in the history of our company,” said Robert Iger, Disney’s chief executive.
In May, superhero movie The Avengers smashed the record for the biggest US opening weekend, taking $200 million
Revenue at its parks and resorts increased 9% to $3.4 billion.
At its film studio, operating income increased more than six-fold to $313 million.
“Higher worldwide theatrical results reflected the performance of the current quarter releases including Marvel’s The Avengers and Brave compared to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Cars 2 in the prior-year quarter,” the media giant said.
In May, superhero movie The Avengers smashed the record for the biggest US opening weekend, taking $200 million.
Operating income at Cable Networks increased due to growth at the Disney and ABC Family channels in the US, offsetting a drop at sports channel ESPN.
Its theme park in Paris, Euro Disney, is also celebrating its 20-year anniversary.
Media giant Walt Disney has decided to ban junk food commercials on its TV, radio and online programmes.
Walt Disney Company, which also runs famous theme parks, said it was setting new nutrition standards to tackle America’s growing problem of child obesity.
US First Lady Michelle Obama described the initiative as a “game changer”.
However, the new rules will not come into effect until 2015, and much will depend on how Disney defines junk food.
Makers of junk food and sugary drinks spend about $1 billion a year on commercials directed at children under 12 years.
Walt Disney has decided to ban junk food commercials on its TV, radio and online programmes
Disney said that any cereals with 10 grams or more of sugar per serving or a full meal with more than 600 calories would not be advertised.
Sugary drinks and high sodium products would also be off the air, the company said.
CEO Bob Iger acknowledged there might be a short-term dip in advertising revenue, but added that the company would adjust and create new products that meet standards.
Michelle Obama, an active campaigner to curb child obesity, welcomed the plan.
“Just a few years ago if you had told me or any other mom or dad in America that our kids wouldn’t see a single ad for junk food while they watched their favorite cartoons on a major TV network, we wouldn’t have believed you,” Michelle Obama was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.
Recent studies have shown that almost a third of America’s children are overweight or obese.
Inevitably, there is skepticism about Disney’s move.
Still, it is all part of a growing campaign to fight obesity.
Last week, in the first move of its kind by an American city, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed to ban sales of super-sized sugary drinks in restaurants, delis, cinemas and sports arenas.