ByJerome Maida, writer at Creators.co
Writer
Jerome Maida

Amid all the speculation about the future of Spider-Man at Sony and the crucial "Spider-Summit" next month, people seem to be forgetting that Sony is extremely unlikely to relinquish the cinematic rights and creative control of the character.

Quite simply, they have NOTHING else.

If they lose - or lose control - of their highest-profile and most lucrative franchise, they have virtually nothing else.

Like, for the rest of the decade.

Once "Unbroken" passes the $100 million mark domestically for Universal, Sony will have the least number of $100 million films among the Big Six studios with three - "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" ($202.8 million), "22 Jump Street" ($191.7 million) and "The Equalizer" ($100.9 million).

If they lose conrtrol of Spidey, all they will have from this year is the "21 Jump Street" franchise, which is still obviously popular, but comedic sequels are trickier than action/adventure/superhero ones and "The Equalizer", which likely will spawn a sequel, but based on how it sank after an impressive opening weekend and is already on DVD after being released in September, that is no lock for blockbuster future installments.

It's worth considering that, without a successful Spidey Cinematic universe, Sony's future film offerings look even more bleak - especially when compared to their competitors.

Think I'm kidding?

In 2015, Sony's slate includes "The Wedding Ringer" (1/16/15 release date); "Chappie" (3/6/15), "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" (4/17/15), "untitled Cameron Crowe Film" (5/29/15), "Pixels" (7/24/15), "Grimsby" (7/31/15), "Ricki and the Flash" (8/7/15),"Kitchen Sink" (9/4/15), "Hotel Transylvania 2 " (9/25/15), "The Walk" (10/2/15), "Spectre" (11/6/15) and a "Seth Rogen/Joseph Gordon-Levitt X-Mas Movie" (11/25/15).

Seriously. That's the lineup Sony has assembled for what may be a year with more big films than ever before?

The only film of the group that looks like it will be a true worldwide blockbuster is the new James Bond film, "Spectre". If the Idris Elba nonsense, leak of a script or gargantuan budget delay the film, Sony is really screwed next year.

Because the only other films out of that slate that look like they might come close to $100 million are : Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which comes six years after the original, when Kevin James was a much hotter actor; Hotel Transylvania 2, which will try to duplicate it's predecessor's rare September/October success and the still untitled Seth Rogen/Joseph Gordon-Levitt X-Mas Movie, which seeing as how it is still untitled and fallout from Rogen's "The Interview" is a big question mark.

A few years ago, Pixels would have been be a slam dunk to be a smash, but star Adam Sandler has had a string of flops and his desire is in question.

Also, this means Sony has no surefire summer hit for 2015.

Contrast Sony's 2015 slate with Fox, which has these films on the schedule: "Taken 3"( 1/9/15), "Kingsman: The Secret Service" (2/13/15), "Unfinished Business" (3/6/15), "Home" (3/27/15), "The Longest Ride" (4/10/15), "Spy" (5/22/15), "B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations" (6/5/15), "Paper Towns" (6/5/15), "Poltergeist (2015)" (7/24/15), "The Fantastic Four" (8/7/15),
"Hitman: Agent 47" (8/28/15), "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" (9/18/15),
"Victor Frankenstein" (10/2/15), "The Peanuts Movie" (11/6/15), "The Martian"(11/25/15), "Alvin and the Chipmunks 4" (12/23/15) and "Joy"
(12/25/15).

Taken 3, of course, should be 2015's first new hit. Other action films with genre roots that have the potential to be solid hits are Kingsman: The Secret Service and Hitman: Agent 47. Victor Frankenstein should lure ticket buyers aroung Halloween. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the first sequel to 2014's successful film. The Peanuts Movie should have huge anticipation, while whoever scheduled Alvin and the Chipmunks five days after a certain film that takes place in a galaxy far, far away has some huge acorns. If Poltergeist and The Fantastic Four defy their critics and skeptics, Fox's 2015 box-office could go from good to great.

Now, contrast Sony's slate with Disney, which is set to have a year most studio execs could only dream about: "Strange Magic" (1/23/15), "McFarland, USA " (2/20/15), Cinderella (2015) (3/13/15), "Monkey Kingdom" (4/17/15), "Avengers: Age of Ultron" (5/1/15), "Tomorrowland" (5/22/15), "Inside Out" (6/19/15), "Ant-Man"(7/17/15), "The Jungle Book (2015)" (10/9/15), "Untitled Cold War Spy Thriller" (10/16/15), "The Good Dinosaur" (11/25/15) and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (12/18/15).

You know it's a loaded year for a studio when an animated film involving George Lucas, Strange Magic, likely won't be even it's SIXTH most profitable film of the year. Cinderella will probably come close to following in the steps of Maleficent as a lucrative live-action adaptation of one of it's cartoon classics. The Good Dinosaur and Inside Out should make for a devastating box-office duo. Ant-Man will almost certainly benefit from having both the Marvel brand and a release date a scant two months after the juggernaut that Avengers: Age of Ultron is likely to be. Oh, and there's a good chance that whatever box-office records Tony Stark and company break, Star Wars: The Force Awakens will eclipse, or at least challenge, seven months later.

Sony's 2015 slate also pales compared to Warner Brothers: "Jupiter Ascending" (2/6/15), "Focus" (2/27/15), "In the Heart of the Sea" ( 3/13/15),
"Get Hard" (3/27/15), "Hillsong - Let Hope Rise" (4/1/15), "Run All Night" . (4/17/15), "The Water Diviner" ( 4/24/15), "Untitled Reese Witherspoon/Sofia Vergara Comedy" (5/8/15), "Mad Max: Fury Road" (5/15/15), "San Andreas" (5/29/15), "Entourage"(6/5/15), "Magic Mike XXL" (7/1/15), "Gallows" (7/10/15),
"Pan"
(7/24/15), "Point Break (2015)" (7/31/15), "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." (8/14/15), "Max (2015)" 8/21/15, "Me Before You" (8/21/15), "Untitled Whitey Bulger Film"(9/18/15), "The Intern" (9/25/15), "Vacation" (10/9/15), "Midnight Special" (11/25/15).

"Jupiter Ascending", according to some, will be the first film by the Wachowskis to truly strike gold since "The Matrix" trilogy. "Magic Mike XXL" should be huge, while "Pan" is likely to be a hit as well. The so-far "Untitled Reese Witherspoon/Sofia Vergara Comedy" has the potential to be a hit similar to "The Heat'. "Mad Max: Fury Road" is starting to generate buzz and leads a pack of remakes/reboots that also includes "Point Break" and Vacation that have the potential to have WB's 2015 go from good to great if they are well-received.

The slate for Universal in 2015 also seems to dwarf Sony's offerings:

"Blackhat" (1/16/15), "The Boy Next Door"(1/23/15), "Seventh Son" (2/6/15),
"Furious 7" ( 4/3/15), "Unfriended" (4/17/15), "Pitch Perfect 2" (5/15/15), "Jurassic World", (6/12/15), "Ted 2" (6/26/15), "Minions" (7/10/15),
"Straight Outta Compton" (8/14/15), "The Visit" (9/11/15), "Everest" (9/18/15), "Crimson Peak" (10/16/15), "Jem and the Holograms" (10/23/15),
"Krampus" (12/4/15), "Sisters" (12/18/15).

Universal has an absolutely loaded April-to-July linep that should allow them to be the only studio to truly be able to go toe-to-toe with Sidney over the summer. Furious 7 is the latest chapter in a franchise that has been on an upward trajectory and that should get a bit more of a boost from fans who want to see the last appearance of Paul Walker in the film series. Jurassic World is the latest installment in one of the most successful franchises of all time. Ted 2 is the sequel to a monster hit, while Minions is the spinoff of the "Despicable Me" film series, the latest installment of which grossed $368 million domestically. If Pitch Perfect 2, Straight Outta Compton and Jem and the Holograms just hit box-office doubles, Universal may truly challenge Fox and disney for the top spot.

With only ten films on it's slate, Paramount is almost in the same boat as Sony except for one thing: Almost every one of their scheduled 2015 films is either a sequel, based on a recognizable brand or based on a relatable concept: "Project Almanac" ( 1/30/15), "SpongeBob: Sponge Out of Water" (2/6/15), "Hot Tub Time Machine 2" (2/20/15), "Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension" (3/13/15), "The Moon and the Sun" (4/10/15), "Monster Trucks" (5/29/15),
"Terminator: Genisys" (7/1/15), "Scouts vs. Zombies" (10/30/15), "Friday the 13th (2015)" (11/13/15), "Mission Impossible 5" (12/25/15).

SpongeBob: Sponge Out Of Water should do great business, while Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and Paranormal Activity; The Ghost Dimension should at least be mild hits. Scouts vs. Zombies has some buzz. If Terminator: Genisys succeeds in recharging that series, Paramount will be tickled pink. Oh, and they have great confidence in Mission Impossible 5, obviously, having placed it on the schedule only a week after Luke Skywalker and Company. This is either a brilliant move or one Paramount and Tom Cruise will severely regret.

As for 2016 - a year that is arguably deeper in blockbusters from other studios - it is shaping up even worse for Sony , especially without a "Sinister Six" film, which is scheduled for November 11, 2016 but will likely be scrapped if Marvel studios gains control of the Spidey franchise. Right now, the only other pictures Sony has on the schedule for 2016 - which is barely a year away - are:

"The 5th Wave" (1/29/16), "Goosebumps" ( 4/15/16), "Angry Birds" (5/20/16),
"Uncharted" (6/10/16), "Untitled Smurfs Movie" (8/5/16), "Sausage Party" (8/12/16) and "Inferno" (10/14/16).

Wow! Do you really think the other studios are quaking in their boots over Sony's schedule? Especially without "Sinister Six"?

In stark contrast, Fox has a very impressive slate already: "Deadpool" (2/12/16),
"Peregrine's Home for Peculiars" ( 3/4/16), "Boss Baby"(3/18/16), "Kung Fu Panda 3", (3/18/16), "X-Men: Apocalypse" (5/27/16), "Independence Day 2" (6/24/16), "Ice Age 5" (7/15/16) and "Untitled Planet of the Apes" (7/29/16).

If anything, Disney has even more heavy-hitters on their slate for 2016: "Zootopia" (3/4/16), "The Finest Hours" (4/15/16), "Captain America: Civil War" (5/6/16), "Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass" ( 5/27/16),
"Finding Dory" ( 6/17/16), "The BFG" (7/1/16), "Doctor Strange" (11/4/16),
"Moana"11/23/16, "Untitled Star Wars" (12/16/16).

Warner Brothers already has a lot of tent pole titles included in their 2016 slate also, including: "Untitled New Line Horror Film" (1/29/16), "How to Be Single" ( 2/12/16), "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" ( 3/25/16),
"The Conjuring 2" (6/10/16), "The Nice Guys" (6/17/16), "Tarzan"(7/1/16),
"King Arthur" (7/22/16), "Suicide Squad" (8/5/16), "Untitled New Line Horror Film" (9/9/16), "Ninjago" (9/23/16), "Live By Night" (10/7/16), "Geostorm" . (10/21/16) and "Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them" (11/18/16).

Universal already has a solid lineup of hits scheduled for 2016 as well: "Ride Along 2"(1/15/16), "Hail, Caesar!" (2/5/16), "The Untitled Pets Project" (2/12/16), "Warcraft" (3/11/16), "Clifford The Big Red Dog" ( 4/8/16), "The Best Man Wedding" (4/15/16), "The Huntsman" (4/22/16), "Universal R-Rated Comedy" (5/13/16), "The Mummy (2016)" (6/24/16), "Untitled Next Bourne Chapter" (7/15/16), "Spectral", ( 8/12/16), "Monster High" (10/7/16), "Untitled Blumhouse Horror 3" (10/21/16), "Untitled Great Wall Project" (11/23/16),
"Untitled Illumination Entertainment" (12/21/16).

Paramount may only have four films on the 2016 schedule, but they are biggies: "Ben-Hur (2016)" ( 2/26/16), "Beverly Hills Cop (2016)" (3/25/16), "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2" (6/3/16) and "Star Trek 3" (7/8/16).

But it's 2017 and 2018 where Sony's current dependence on building it's Spidey Cinematic universe becomes most apparent. Because without the rumored Female Superhero Film spinning off from the Spider-Verse, or a Venom or Amazing Spider-Man 3 film, Sony has NOTHING scheduled for those years.

Meanwhile Fox already has "Captain Underpants" (1/13/17), "Untitled Wolverine" (3/3/17), "Untitled Kevin Lima Bollywood Musical" 3/10/17,
"Ferdinand" ( 4/7/17), "How to Train Your Dragon 3" (6/9/17), "The Fantastic Four 2" (7/14/17), "Untitled Fox/DWA/Blue Sky (July 2017)" (7/21/17), "The Croods 2",(12/22/17), "Larrikins" (2/16/18), "Anubis" (3/23/18), "Untitled Fox/DWA/Blue Sky (March 2018)"(3/23/18), "Madagascar 4" (5/18/18),
"Untitled Fox/DWA/Blue Sky (June 2018)" (6/29/18), "Untitled Fox / Marvel Fox" (7/13/18), "Untitled Fox/DWA/Blue Sky (July 2018)" (7/20/18) and
"Puss in Boots 2: Nine Lives & 40 Thieves" (12/21/18)scheduled for 2017-2018.

While Sony would have nothing scheduled for 2017-2018 if it loses the rights to Spidey, Disney will just keep bringing outbox-office bazookas in those two years, with these huge films already on the schedule: "Guardians of the Galaxy 2" (5/5/17), "Toy Story 4" ( 6/16/17), "Pirates of the Caribbean 5" (7/7/17),
"Thor: Ragnarok" ( 7/28/17), "Black Panther" (11/3/17), "Untitled Pixar Animation (Nov. 2017)" (11/22/17), "Untitled Disney Animation (2018)" (3/9/18), "Avengers: Infinity War Part I" (5/4/18), "Untitled Pixar Animation (2018)" (6/15/18), "Captain Marvel" (7/6/18), "Inhumans" (11/2/18) and
"Untitled Disney Animation (Nov. 2018)" (11/21/18).

Universal, Paramount and Warner Brothers have big movies scheduled those years - and beyond - as well.

In short, if Sony wants to remain viable as a movie studio, they absolutely need to keep the rights and control of their most popular franchise.

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