The entire West Coast marketing department for Marvel has recently been let go, Nikki Finke reports, including Dana Precious, EVP of Worldwide Marketing for Marvel’s LA Studios; Jeffrey Stewart, VP of Worldwide Marketing; and Jodi Miller, Manager of Worldwide Marketing.
The official line on why Marvel’s marketing team was let go is that Disney will be taking over that function and handling the releases of The Avengers and future Marvel movies themselves. In fact I’ve learned that Marvel will bring in someone in a “project management role”. But Kevin Feige’s continued supervision of all things Marvel should resolve any doubts by fanboys that Disney will screw around or screw up the comic book films. Insiders tell me that Precious and her team were not well-loved by Marvel bigwig Feige and other top execs at Marvel or by Disney and Paramount. (Some of the comments I heard today included: “Not up to or have the skill set to release this brand properly”… “Their job was to keep track of the people doing the real work”… “Paper pushers”… ”Would it have killed them to return an email?”… “Disney doesn’t need someone to cut its trailers”…)
Despite the lurid headline, this doesn’t seem to have affected the comics marketing team. The reasons being floated are as a cost-cutting measure — Disney is on a renewed thrift campaign, following some disappointing earnings, and recently canceled the costly Lone Ranger remake.
We’re not savvy enough on the West Coast operations of Marvel to know what was behind this, but it’s fairly safe to say that Disney cares much more about Marvel Studios than Marvel Comics. Implementation of the Disney-Marvel relationship has been an odd one — on the one side, you have a corporate juggernaut who wants to reach the boy market for toys and toons. On the other you have a company that is very much still led by chairman Ike Perlmutter, who, by some accounts, is Disney’s second biggest shareholder after Steve Jobs. Marvel Studios is known for knowing the value of a penny — something Disney also knows. But whereas Disney has controlling costs down to an art, Perlmutter has it down to a science. The relationship is still evolving.
One thing that should be noted: Precious and her team had only been at Marvel for a year. Several people have filled the marketing spot in recent years, so it was always a hot spot.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.