URBAN LEGEND MOVIE: Morbius could not appear in Sheet II due to Sony’s Spider-Man rights.
Recently, an unused scene that was filmed as a possible ending for Sword has gone viral. In it, it shows Blade noticing a mysterious figure on a nearby roof. As the story goes, that mysterious figure was meant to be Morbius, and therefore Morbius the Living Vampire was meant to be the villain in Sheet II. However, the scene was not used in the final film and obviously Morbius was No the villain in Sheet II. In fact, Sheet II had an entirely new director than the first film in the series (with Guillermo del Toro replacing Stephen Norrington).
As the alternate ending went viral, a consistent point in the comments is that the reason Morbius was not available for Sheet II it was for the rights to Sony Spider-Man. However, is that really true?
DID SONY HAVE THE RIGHTS TO MORBIUS AT THE TIME OF BLADE II?
MyFullGames’s own Rachel Roth wrote an article about why Morbius wasn’t on Sheet II in 2021. In that article, Roth also pointed out how the rumors existed back then, stating, “Over the years, rumors have circulated that when Sony started developing their Spiderman trilogy, he was unwilling to share his characters with other studios; Thus of the sheet The follow-up movies couldn’t use Morbius. However, there has been no official information to substantiate these claims.”
Here’s the thing, I don’t think we need to get official information about it, because I’m pretty sure Sony DID NOT HAVE the rights to Morbius at the time Blade II was in early production (circa 2000, as Sword came out in 1998 and Sheet II came out in 2002). First off, it’s important to note that what we know about Sony’s rights to Marvel ancillary characters beyond Spider-Man is based on a contract that Sony leaked as part of Sony’s 2014 WikiLeaks leak.
In that contractnotes that Sony has the exclusive film rights to “The “Spider-Man” character, “Peter Parker” and essentially all existing and future alternate versions, iterations and alter egos of the “Spider-Man” character, as well as “All characters fictitious, place structures, businesses, groups, or other entities or elements (collectively, “Creative Elements”) that are listed in Exhibit 6 attached hereto.”
When you go to Exhibit 6, you’ll see Morbius as the 373rd character Sony has exclusive rights to, right before Morlun…
370. Monster of the Moors aka The Fool of Slade Mansion
371. Montana (I) / Jackson W. Brice
372. Mountain (II) / Bale Mountain
373. Morbius the Living Vampire / Dr. Michael Morbius
375. Morris “The Serpent” Diamond
376. Morris Forelli
377. Morty Phillips
379. Mr. Brownstone / Garrison Klum
380. Mr. Nacht
However, the contract in question was a modification signed in 2011. In other words, even though Morbius was definitely exclusive to Sony as of 2011, that doesn’t mean Sony was connected to Morbius in 1998, a year Sony had just acquired the rights to Marvel’s Spider-Man for $7 million. In other words, it’s highly unlikely that Morbius was off limits to Blade II due to Sony’s rights.
David S. Goyer, writer of Blade and Blade II, noted in an interview with Jason Myers in 2000:
JM: Back in 1998, even before Sword was released, you mentioned that you planned to use Morbius in the sequel. Do you still do that?
managing Director: No Morbius in Sheet 2. Marvel wanted to use the character for a separate franchise. However, there is one character who COULD have been Morbius, if you look closely enough.
Note that Goyer said that MARVEL wanted to use the character for a separate franchise, not that “the rights go to Sony.”
However, there’s an even more notable reason why Sony’s Morbius rights weren’t up for grabs when Blade II was in production: This was because Marvel had sold the rights to someone else in 2000!
WHO HAD THE RIGHTS TO MORBIUS WHEN BLADE II CAME OUT?
as variety reported May 2000, Marvel signed an agreement with Artisan Entertainment for Marvel and Artisan to co-produce projects with more than a dozen Marvel characters (the most famous being Captain America and Thor). The small movie studio (the largest of the so-called mini-studios) had made a name for itself with films like the Blair Witch Project Y Requiem for a Dream.
Marvel’s Avi Arad said at the time: “Over the past year, Marvel Studios has become extremely aggressive in becoming the entertainment arm of Marvel Entertainment, and this joint venture shows that commitment. The companies are similar in their taste for cutting-edge entertainment and the idea here is that we develop our product so that both companies can expand rapidly.”
Artist Director Amir Malin noted, “Artisan has been engaging the brand in the core demographic between the ages of 15 and 24, a likable audience that is a perfect match for Marve. With its assets, our distribution, marketing and financial leverage, this is almost like an independent studio. There will be a huge advantage for Marvel in the deals, and Marvel brands give us an advantage because with a project like Captain America, there’s probably 75% brand awareness.”
Among the authorized characters in the deal was “Morbius,” a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who became a vampire trying to cure a rare blood disease. The bloodsucking doctor bites only evildoers, whom he stalks at night.
Marvel tried to buy Artisan in 2003, but instead Lions Gate bought the company. Artisan/Lions Gate only produced two Marvel movies, the 2004 one The Punisher and 2005 man thingwhich debuted on TV in the US but was released theatrically internationally and eventually all options lapsed and obviously Sony got the rights at some point.
However, Sony’s Spider-Man rights couldn’t have been the reason Morbius wasn’t in. Sheet II because Sony didn’t HAVE the rights to Morbius then.
The legend is…
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