According to William Safire in the New York Times, the origin of the phrase “tiger by the tail” is from a Chinese proverb, translated in 1875 as “He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.” The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs interprets the old Asian metaphor as “Once a dangerous or troublesome venture is begun, the safest course is to carry it through to the end.”

Dealmakers should applaud the team at Sony Pictures Entertainment. When they decided to attempt a reboot of the Spider-Man franchise, they definitely had a tiger by the tail.

Big budget films can be big flops. Who would have wagered that summer movie fans would want another Spider-Man flick? This summer’s $200-million film, “The Amazing Spider-Man” directed by Marc Webb and starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, came on the oh-so-recent heels of “Spider-Man 3” starring Tobey Maguire, a film that netted $337 million in 2007. Overall the Sam Rami directed Spider-Man comic franchise trilogy had earned $1.1 billion in ticket sales.

Thanks to the Spider-Man reboot bet, for the 11th year in a row Sony has reached the notable milestone of $1 billion in revenue. “The Amazing Spider-Man,” from Sony Pictures subsidiary Columbia Pictures, is Sony‘s top earner of 2012, with a domestic total of $260 million and climbing. Worldwide, the reboot has now grossed more than $750 million.

One of the key ingredients to the Spider-Man franchise reboot was a new team. New writers, director, actors and so on brought energy and vision to a property that was successful but comparatively sputtering. Reboots require different dynamics and the right new team can make that happen.

So a deal for a sequel must have been easy, right? Wrong, the tiger ride was not over. Columbia Pictures President Doug Belgrad reportedly said in July that he would like Webb to return to direct a sequel, but there were “obstacles” to overcome.

Revenues of $750 million can clear a great many obstacles. The sequel deal went through in September when Belgrad announced Garfield would return as the title character and Webb would return to direct “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” As of this writing Stone has yet to sign on to return in the role of Gwen Stacy. The movie, to be filmed in 3-D, will hit theaters in May of 2014. The intent is that this is part two of a new Spider-Man trilogy. That would indeed be a great ride for Sony Pictures and Columbia.

Creating a Hollywood Ending for Your Deals

Be prepared for the day when you have a tiger by the tail deal. For your next big deal you need different eyes, better eyes and different voices helping you. You need a tiger team.

  1. Different eyes indicate the advantage of having a group of people brainstorm your ideas and your presentations.  Each member of your team sees in an individual way and can, therefore, pinpoint problems with or suggest added benefits to your solution.  As a result, your next kind of deal benefits from having creativity, imagination, and energy it might not have otherwise.
  2. Better eyes, of course, indicates that many times the different eyes see angles or hidden aspects in ways that greatly magnify the power of your solution.
  3. Different voices indicate the advantage of having many contributions to the drafting of your presentations and written documents.  Voices also help in arriving at an overall tone for your hunt.  And it probably goes without saying that some of these voices will arrive at a much better way to express something than you would have thought of alone.

This approach has merit whether you are in a turnaround, launch, acquisition or brand reboot. Albert Einstein’s sentiment is still spot on: “We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

In fact, you’ll find hunting your next big deal — even with a tiger team — will test your salesmanship beyond any previous tests.  It’s one of the biggest satisfactions of hunting Bengal-tiger sized deals that you’ll find yourself using new techniques and coming up with solutions in new ways.

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