Feige escapes from Perlmutter’s rule as Marvel Studios restructures

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Photo: Nerdist

Whoa, I think we’re having a mini “10 days that changed the world here,” as the changes put in place by the 2009 upheavals at both DC and Marvel have now evolved to their next logical steps. On Friday we reported that DC president Diane Nelson has been given WB Consumer Products to run, along with interactive and DC Entertainment, making her a very powerful exec at WB. And now, via Kim Masters and Matthew Belloni, news that Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige will now report directly to Disney chairman Alan Horn instead of Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, Marvel’s notoriously difficult and penny pinching head. The move, as reported, is not a reward, or a restructuring just to move things around: it’s directly to get Ike out of Feige’s hair. Given Feige’s massive success at Disney with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s a well deserved rescue.

However, Feige had to leave the rest of the Marvel empire behind: TV—headed by Jeph Loeb—publishing, animation and interactive will all continue to report to Ike.

So if you’re wondering if the Fantastic Four and the X-men can now appear in comics and on lucnhooxes again—Ike had forbidden any expansion of their universes due to Fox owning the movie rights—the answer is probably no. And indeed, one wonders what retribution Perlmutter might exact on the movie end of things.

But let’s back up a bit. According to the story that broke in THR, the move came after Feige complained directly to Horn and Disney’s top guy Bob Iger, and went down last week.

“Marvel Studios is taking the next logical step in its integration with The Walt Disney Studios, joining Pixar and Lucasfilm in centralizing many of its film-related functions in Burbank, with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and co-president Louis D’Esposito continuing to lead the Marvel Studios team reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn,” a Disney spokesperson tells THR in a statement.

[snip] The shift also evidences the tricky executive politics that Iger must manage as a result of assembling several freestanding feifdoms under the Disney banner over the past decade. Pixar Animation Studios, Lucasfilm and Marvel have been key acquisitions that brought with them valuable intellectual property assets and creative expertise. But each silo is overseen by powerful executives such as animation gurus John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, producer Kathleen Kennedy and Perlmutter and Feige, respectively, all of whom have tremendous influence within their corner of the Disney empire.

[snip] “Everybody knows Ike is difficult,” says one source close to the company. “This has been a long time coming. Kevin has grown his entire career under Ike and now it just makes sense.”

Film reporter Devin Faraci offers some more Kremlinology with some hair raising details.

For Feige this has to be a huge relief – every story I have ever heard about Perlmutter has reiterated how difficult he is, how mercurial he is and how hard he is to keep happy. High level people at Marvel have told me that Perlmutter is exactly the level of rich where he can and will make decisions that seem crazy to everyone else, and more than one Marvel staffer has told me that they thought the biggest threat facing Marvel Studios was Ike capriciously firing Feige.

Perlmutter is famously cheap – Marvel’s press junkets have been catered by Subway in the past – and has been known to get involved on all levels, from blockading diversity in Marvel’s on-screen superheroes to getting the girlfriends of his billionaire pals roles in Marvel movies. I know that Feige has been deeply frustrated working under Perlmutter, and that for many Marvel staffers part of the job was making sure Ike didn’t randomly torch the whole thing.

While Perlmutter is known to be equally cheap, vengeful and reclusive, as we’ve reported here in the past, he managed to make his mark on Disney by bringing some of his cost cutting measures to Disney Consumer Products, where his rock ’em sock ’em managing style also led to lawsuits over dismissals said to be based on race. Among the stories we’ve heard over the years, is that the dismantling of Lucasfilms after Disney purchased it was partly because of Ike—Bob Iger didn’t want to make the same mistake twice and leave a powerful gadfly buzzing around.

Now that Feige has been set free what will happen? Will he stop hemming and hawing when people ask about diversity in Marvel films? Will he hire more notable filmmakers and give them some leeway in making movies? Will Joss Whedon come back to the fold after being worked to death on his contract? Will Marvel movies break out of the fairly rigid house style they’ve shown? And what will Ike do in retaliation?

Speculating a bit more, Kevin Feige’s ascension to the Disney hierarchy puts him into a good spot to come a legit heir to that throne…or another major movie studio. As for Ike, he’s a robust 72 and seemingly has no interest whatsoever in retiring. He’ll be around a long time to come.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Feige’s contract ends in 2018, and I’m sure Disney will move mountains to keep him around, especially if it lines him up to take over the chairmanship. Though, one has to wonder if there’s some stiff competition between him, John Lasseter (or Jim Morris), and Kathleen Kennedy over who might ascend. It’s hard to imagine, after 10 years of what sounds like a pretty exhausting job, he’d want to continue doing the same thing indefinitely…

  2. Generation 911-Snitch/Millennials are supposed to be replacing baby-boomers as the number one market as of 2018, so Feige may not even want to keep the job -not like he would not want to keep it, but he’s gotta know that he would most likely not be successful at catering to a generation he is not connected with.

    Feige needs to shift to this new generation, so maybe he does know how to appeal to a generation of consumers that pretend they are ‘American’, who have no idea how to be secure w/themselves w/out a phone/internet connection in their hand to gossip with excessively and pander to, and they have grown up in an environment that has been doing nothing to improve livability, cooperation, and sense accountability -even things like the sale of synthetic heroin (oxycodone) have * QUADRUPLED * since 1999.

    I think by 2020 definitely there will be a change in the way the younger generation view ‘brands’, and the concept of ‘brand identity’, along with the concept of ‘America’. Maybe not all, but many people will turn away from the old brand ‘machine’, the way brands are being portrayed and implemented, since the USA will still be degrading it’s level of livability -people are not going to be into the same type of mass consumption ‘block buster’ movies and this type of merchandising that accompanies it, since the focusing on consumerism, and brand identity have been contributing to the apathy in this country, turning people into bigots, and consumers, while everything is about outsourcing jobs and lobbyists. -People, not all but many of the Generation 911-Snitch/Millennials may either remain perpetuating their pretentious, passive aggressive, ‘meek’ self absorbing gossiping consumerism trying to pass themselves off as ‘pretentious and smug’, since ‘bigot’ sounds so harsh, OR they will break under the reality that we need to lay off the predictable, plastic, ever regurgitated stories, and bring something real to the story telling table, something more dimensional as far as real depictions of humanity, community, accountability, living styles, characterizations, -even trying to appeal to the next gen via a small flimsy pamphlet ‘comic book’ is not going to work. People will spend, people will wait in line for a T-shirt made in China -they will buy larger wider format books, the book, and print publishing are not dying -it is just easier to track what we pay attention to, and what we do when the purchase is made online, when the ‘consumer’ is tracked.

    We are not consumers, we are human beings. This next gen will either emulate that thinking, which I think they will, and the old school way of promoting brands will die. The age of the single screen that absorbs people’s time and sense of self will be ‘changing’ -that window of time before the new level of tech begins to absorb people’s sense of self will be like that brief moment of time when Marvel was just crawling out of bankruptcy, yet just before the buyout setup for Disney -a renaissance, a type of NuMarvel / NuSequential can replace the old concept of ‘comic books’, and a ‘NuFilm’ will have to be applied just as much to the MCU, which Feige may not be able to translate for a next gen.

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