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Tolja! Ike Perlmutter making waves at Disney


As expected, today’s firing of Disney Studios head Rich Ross has Tinsel Town buzzing, and a picture of a Mouse House in disarray is emerging. Marvel Studio head Kevin Feige has been named several times as a potential replacement, but Nikki Finke’s must-read analysis also confirms what we wrote about last year: legendary skinflint Ike Perlmutter is very much in the mix at Disney, and his personal dislike of Ross certainly didn’t help matters. (Ross was also on the outs with Pixar’s John Lasseter, according to Finke.) But even Disney chairman Bob Iger is feeling the Ike pinch:

Ross arrived at a watershed time for the studio: shortly after Iger entered into the 2009 deal with Marvel. The comic book, TV, and film entertainment company’s Israeli owner Ike Perlmutter is not just a notoriously tough customer but a budget-obsessed megalomaniac besides a recluse. He has taken control of Disney’s consumer products division already (firing here, fixing there), and my sources tell me he is making Iger’s life miserable with back-seat managing of everything, especially Walt Disney Studios. (“Iger has real problems with Ike. That’s the real story,” one of my insiders tells me. ”Bob thought he could handle him. But Ike is uncharmable.”)


Uncharmable. That’s one way to put it.

Although Marvel’s publishing business is still being more or less left alone to do its comics thing, it is increasingly in the middle of Disney’s New York real estate problem. Disney Publishing’s lease on its New York office is up and a new home is being sought. Much of the staff was relocated to White Plains several years ago, but the editorial offices are still in New York. Ike has reportedly volunteered to have them move into Marvel’s midtown offices—offices which are already “snug”, shall we say. The plan hasn’t been approved—Disney has an entire department given over just to moving people around and they operate with military efficiency. They might even require more than one bathroom for their floor plan.

But there’s another story we’re hearing of late: that Disney may move ALL of its East Coast publishing back to Burbank. The only reason Disney ever had a substantial New York publishing base was because of Hyperion Books, the traditional book publishing arm that was created by Michael Lynton more than 20 years ago. You just can’t have a literary publishing house located in LA. So offices in the trendy Flatiron district were set up. Disney’s magazine division (where The Beat was then employed) moved East a few years later, but since then Manhattan real estate prices have led the personnel to be moved away, bit by bit, to less spendy climes like White Plains and Northhampton.

Moving everyone West would cost a fortune. But not everyone would make the move.

At any rate, while it’s clear that JOHN CARTER is the sword that finally felled the unpopular Ross, the Disney-Marvel-Pixar three-way looks very unstable until a suitable studio head is found…and those aren’t easy shoes to fill. Meanwhile, Ike’s influence on the rest of Disney is growing and growing. He is, as we often point out, the number one shareholder. And he’s a guy for whom the traditional perks and rituals of Hollywood mean nothing. Uncharmable? More like invulnerable.


  1. Fiege has only been named as a possible studio head by a few over zealous Deadline posters. He’s not going to take over.

  2. Hmmm… Who controls Steve Jobs’ shares? (Also a big shareholder, from the Pixar acquisition.)

    What’s interesting is that Ike is not on the Board. He’s in charge of Marvel. Of course, if Marvel tanks, and Disney must replace him, what sort of shareholder does he become?

  3. “Hmmm… Who controls Steve Jobs’ shares?”

    A trust (The Stephen P. Jobs trust) controlled by his widow, it is the largest single stakeholder, perlmutter has (I think – working back from his stock allocation around back from when the takeover happened) about a 1-2% share in Disney.

  4. And from looking around, Perlmutter is maybe the 11th or 12th largest shareholder – where does the Beat get this ideas he’s the number one shareholder?

  5. Heidi, can you please do an in-depth article about Perlmutter? He seems endlessly fascinating, yet I know almost nothing about him.

    Thanks for the heads up. That article on Deadline is the stuff broken dreams are made of.

  6. Commenters, read the LINKED Deadline article. Apparently, Ike has been micromanaging Disney merchandising and making Iger’s life hell. Great Read!

  7. any source for perlmutter DIS stockholdings? i couldnt find much on the internet. i did see that he was paid $590M in equity for the marvel acquisition. so with DIS trading at about $31/share at the end of 2009 when the deal finalized i get about 19M shares or about 1% of the company (all calculations back-of-the-envelope). the Jobs trust controls a little under 8% of DIS and is the only shareholder DIS mentions in the 10K and proxy statements for owning more than 5% of the company. i could be missing a whole lot tho, so any other sources or corrections are welcome. thanks!

  8. The comments are meals in themselves…

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Having worked with him a lifetime ago, I can honestly say that I’ve never met anyone in life who enjoyed sinking a knife into the backs of their “trusted” colleagues more than Rich. He fancied himself a Godfather of sorts and reveled in the feeling that everyone had to kiss his ring daily. If you dared to challenge him and–as a result of that–eventually lost your job, you were reminded weekly by the old guard that you’d “know best if you never say a bad word about Rich. He’s listening and can ruin you.” Seems his level of paranoia and insecurity seems to have gotten worse over time. Shame, really.
    Gary was always the backbone and workhorse of the Channel and anyone who didn’t have their head up Rich’s a** at the Channel knew that. He never truly got the recognition for the turnaround that happened there that everyone knew was mostly due to him.
    I can think of no better situation that exemplifies karma coming back to bite someone than this. I hope Rich is doing some serious soul searching on his break. Even a massive ego like his has to be extremely bruised by this spectacular and epic failure.

    Comment by Beego Tenley — Saturday April 21, 2012 @ 8:51am PDT REPLY TO THIS POST

    I loooooove LA!

  9. Found a couple Perlmutter gems…

    There isn’t a bigger prick in this business than Ike Perlmutter (and yes, I realize what a big statement that is). He’s trying to gut Disney like he gutted Marvel (with it’s whopping 40 employees pre-acquisition). Fuck that guy

    Comment by Ex Marvel Guy — Friday April 20, 2012 @ 3:08pm PDT REPLY TO THIS POST
    Indeed. Stories about him pulling paper clips out of trash cans, and the like, are legendary.

    Comment by Gil Brooks — Friday April 20, 2012 @ 3:51pm PDT REPLY TO THIS POST

    -Regardless of the fact that there is no way the man in that picture is over 65 years old…
    Nice try though Perlmutter.

    I agree w/Emily Smith from the NY Post:
    ( http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/ike_takes_ax_to_star_salaries_5DWLvn9zgQx2txjyF35QON ):

    “Cruise’s people reached out, but Marvel decided they didn’t want the actor to overshadow the superhero. They are great at transforming [less famous] actors into superheroes,” one source told us. Another said, “They think the franchises speak for themselves. Ike doesn’t play Hollywood games.”
    -I love it. This cat worked a deal w/ToyBiz a bank and Marvel, and he is now a Disney exec chill’n on a 3+Million Dollar Salary with an upward momentum that makes even Jay-Z sick w/envy. ‘Recall reading the fiscal reports Marvel used to post pre-Permutter at marvel.com, and one of the power-point presentation slides noted the top three global merchandising companies:
    1. Disney
    2. Time Warner
    3. Marvel Entertainment
    At that time (2000 – 2005) I was psyched to see Marvel in 15yrs as the numero uno w/their new announcement about the films being developed for world wide attention, and Hasbro, and the already Sony and Fox films being successful… on top of it all Quesada’s and Jemas’s ‘NuMarvel’! It was only a matter of time.
    -I have collected Marvel comics during the 80’s, as well as from 200 – 2006. Although I am not a fan of how Marvel went about the publishing / marketing / and design of their ‘events’ (except for Civil War), of all the people to excel in their careers while taking something like Marvel to unprecedented heights, Ike Permutter is also maintaining fan-favored concepts/aspects applied to the integrity of the Marvel brand. W/out Ike Perlmutter working with Kevin Feige (who also fortunately collaborate well with Quesada), Marvel’s character-based assets would normally lose out and end up like the BushJr-era movies. That mo-fo Perlmutter’s gotta update his photo though…

    FYI: No reference is listed at Wikipedia for a sentence one of their sentences inside their site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Perlmutter:
    “Although Perlmutter received $800 million in cash and $590 million in Disney stock after the acquisition, he has admitted he does not want a seat within Disney’s board of directors.”
    -‘Any legit sources on this? :-)

  11. Ha. Nikki Finke reporting on Perlmutter. It’s like some kind of bizarre Hollywood shut-in echo chamber….

    I believe the going rate for a Finke photo was around a thousand, a couple thousand? Stuff like this intrigues me. How someone can be so powerful and completely mysterious. Why someone hasn’t completely cracked this one open is beyond me.

  12. I am sure Perlmutter is very tight fisted… I know (formally somewhat rationale) Marvel employees who now blame Israel for every single problem in the world – LOL.

  13. In case anyone doesn’t have the patience to register for the Financial Times, here’s the relevant passage:

    The retiring Mr Perlmutter is going to have to get used to a little more scrutiny after becoming Hollywood’s newest movie mogul. This week Marvel agreed a $4bn (£2.4bn, €2.8bn) sale to Walt Disney in a deal that valued Mr Perlmutter’s stake at almost $1.5bn. The offer, a mix of cash and shares, makes Mr Perlmutter the second-largest individual shareholder in Disney behind Apple’s Steve Jobs.
    Now perhaps this is no longer true since this article was written in 2009, but the Ike-is-#2 factoid is something I have heard from several former and current Marvel staffers, so it is definitely believed by many. Maybe just part of the Ike mystique, but I didn’t make it up.

  14. @the beat – so since the article was written jobs has died, but iger has also been getting compensated with huge piles of equity. i highly doubt perlmutter personally holds more stock than iger. and he definitely has less than 5% (otherwise he’d show up on the proxy statements), and almost certainly less then a whole slew of institutional stockholders (including the job trust, which still has over 7% of the company).

    im sure he still has enough stock to be a force even without have a spot on the board, but i wouldn’t report that hes the largest individual stockholder without more than that article from 2009 to back it up. obviously your call on your site tho.

  15. I never knew there were other people who like both comic books and the Financial Times- !

    I feel like some sheltered, in-the-closet teenager, right after he’s stepped into his first queer party.

  16. And Ike may become more powerful, as Lasseter may lose some pull. After all, “Cars 2” wasn’t the usual gigantic win for the studio and “John Carter” was directed by one of the Pixar guys.

  17. Heidi?
    I recall those halcyon days at 114. Michael did pretty well for himself, eh? I turned out the IT lights in Northampton a few weeks ago after Meredith took the reins (approproate since I was the one that built their network.) Now supporting abc at w66th -they outsourced IT several years ago. See Denise E. every so often – she’s a biggie in that people moving department – yes very efficient.
    Hope all is well with you-

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