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Disney fires Marvel’s West Coast marketing department


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.

  1. If somebody thinks an enterprising Disney executive isn’t going to realize, fairly soon, that they can maintain the production and profit of all the merchandising, movie and other media about Marvel super-heroes without, you know, actually having to publish the comics, they’d better think again.


  2. Well, Disney hasn’t published many comics in the U.S. in the 70+ years of Disney comics… and those comics are just another merchandise stream, which can easily be outsourced.

    For Disney animation, comics are secondary. It’s all about movies and television. Marvel could easily be re-engineered into a media company with some books and comics… it’s all about where the most money is, and the greatest profit.

    Ask yourself, how many people watch the Super Hero Squad Show? How many people know there are SHS comics? (And even fewer who buy them.) How many knew Iron Man’s origin or powers before the movie came out? (Yes, that includes the cartoon from the 1990s.) How many knew it after the movie? Look at the old Marvel stock reports. How much was made from publishing, from licensing, from movies?

    Marvel Studios will probably be moved once the lease at Manhattan Beach runs out. Marvel Publishing…just signed up new office space, so that’s unlikely. But they could be moved to Westchester, where Disney Publishing Worldwide is located. ABC’s offices are in Manhattan, not California, so not everything need be in Burbank.

  3. Well seeing that Marvel hasn’t really changed much in the year past, I guess this is no surprise. They have to blame it on something. So, is Disney really in charge, and of what. Nothing so far… oh, same ol’ gimmicks. I guess.

  4. Wow – and here I thought things could get personal/nasty in the comics industry. Have you read the comments thread on the linked article? Daaaammmm those Hollywood people are hostile to their own!

  5. I’ll wager a half a C-Note that inside of six months Marvel will relaunch, oh, sorry – “reboot” their entire line from number one.

  6. Allen…
    Nah… they’re more likely to start a new imprint. Which Disney is doing with those beautiful painted origin hardcovers.

    Also, Disney has two aces in the hole:
    * Digicomics, which is active in Italy and the UK, and which is slowly gathering steam over in the iTunes store.
    * The patent for a digital comics viewer, originally assigned to CrossGen.

    So, look to Marvel/Disney to up their digital presence, probably going day-and-date, and maybe even charging $0.99 a comic. (Given the unlimited subscription for the DCU, it’s not that unlikely.)

  7. If they ever did close down the comics publishing side, I wonder if they’d still allow the properties to be licensed out to other companies? Imagine the Marvel comics universe rebooted by Boom!…

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