Rebooting the Spider-Man Movie Franchise Is Looking Like a Smart Move for Sony’s Business

As much as comic book fans tend to bemoan reboots, by the numbers, the Spider-Man movie universe could bring Sony huge profits.

Tim Beyers
Tim Beyers
Apr 12, 2014 at 9:00PM
The Business

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 premiered to big crowds in London earlier this week. Judging from the reaction on social media and among critics, the second installment in Sony's (NYSE:SNE) rebooted Spider-Man movie franchise should equal or improve upon its predecessor's performance.

Strong reviews and social media interest indicate a big opening for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Sources: Sony Pictures, YouTube.

Spinning a web of profits
Spidey's last cinematic battle, with The Lizard, earned $757.9 million worldwide in 2012, according to data supplied by At Rotten Tomatoes, 73% of critics and 77% of moviegoers rated that film "fresh." Others polled by CinemaScore gave it an "A-" rating.

We won't have a CinemaScore for the new Spider-Man movie until May 2, when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 swings into U.S. theaters. There are plenty of good indicators in the meantime:

  • Early reviews at Rotten Tomatoes score the film as 86% "fresh" among critics. Another 114,000 visitors say they want to see the movie. For comparison's sake, 89% of critics and 95% of audience members (more than 171,000 polled) give a thumbs-up to Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which also received an "A" CinemaScore and appears on its way to at least $600 million at the worldwide box office.

  • tracks social media buzz for popular movies. So far, tweets about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 appear to be running between 7:1 and 9:1 positive. (Though, notably, the site says that Twitter buzz for the film is running about 35% below The Winter Soldier at a similar point in its release schedule.)

  • Meanwhile, Variety estimates the film cost $200 million to produce -- or about $30 million less than what Sony spent on the first in its newest line of Spider-Man movies. A bigger box office would have a bigger impact on the studio's bottom line.

Whether we actually get a bigger overall box office is hard to say at this point, but nearly every review I've seen says that stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Dane DeHaan bring terrific performances to the big screen, which trends to count for a lot when it comes to box office buzz.

Need a recent example? Look at Divergent. Awful reviews still take note of the on-screen chemistry between Shailene Woodley and Theo James, which has paid off with audiences who gave the film an "A" CinemaScore. Lions Gate's (NYSE:LGF-A) opener in the franchise has earned $116.6 million domestically as of this writing, likely enough to cover the film's costs when you factor in $70 million in pre-sold international rights.

Foolish final thought
Add it up, and it's looking like the new Spider-Man movie franchise is every bit the hero Sony needs it to be. Do you agree? Do you plan to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2? What do you think of the studio's plan to establish a wider universe of Spider-Man movies to rival Disney and Marvel? Leave a comment below to let us know your take, including whether you would buy, sell, or short Sony stock at current prices.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens May 2 in U.S. theaters. Source: Sony Pictures.