There will be no Spider-Man 4 -- not in 2011, and not for perhaps another year after that. Director Sam Raimi and the all-star cast are off the case, as Sony
Spider-Man 4 was expected to make a boatload of money for stakeholders like Marvel, Sony's Columbia Pictures, and popcorn-wielding cinema chains worldwide. Each of the first three installments pulled in an average of $830 million in worldwide box office, not counting the inevitable merchandising and licensing of toys, T-shirts, and DVD discs.
With the ascendance of 3-D technology that doesn't give you a headache, both the movie theater and home entertainment divisions of Marvel and Sony were salivating over even higher sales this time -- 3-D movies fetch higher ticket prices. IMAX
Not to worry, though. Unless it’s directed by the ghost of Ed Wood and starring Pee-Wee Herman as the eponymous hero, the "rebooted" Spider-Man saga will probably crush box offices everywhere, just like its predecessors did. The payoff will just come a year later. Netflix
The Spider-Man incident illustrates why the movie industry looks like a prime investment field right now. Digital filmmaking and distribution technologies are pushing down the industry's costs, while premium packaging like 3-D showings and fancier home-format discs make us pay more for the experience. Meanwhile, the piracy bugbear raises its head less often as legal online streaming and those pepped-up retail packages each do their part to make the illegal sources less desirable.
If that's not a win-win-win for the likes of Disney, Sony, and Time Warner
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Disney and Netflix, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. Walt Disney is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. IMAX is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers choice. Amazon.com, Disney, and Netflix are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.