In a surprise announcement this morning, it was revealed that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige will no longer be directly answerable to Marvel Entertainment CEO Issac Perlmutter, but sidestepping him to report directly to Disney studio head Alan Horn. The Hollywood Reporter is stating that Feige vented frustration at continually dealing with the legendarily demanding Perlmutter to Horne earlier in the summer and that conversation led to the management restructure revealed today.
A Disney spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter –
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.
Marvel Television, run by Jeph Loeb, and the company’s comics publishing arm are still under Perlmutter’s direct control. Perlmutter is based in New York, so it seems logical that the comics division would remain with him. However, with Marvel Television also in Burbank, it seems odd that they did not make the transition that the film side of the company did.
Although he notoriously guards his privacy – he allegedly once attended a Marvel movie premier in disguise and the only publicity photo of him is approximately three decades old at this point – stories of his mercurial temper and frugal nature are numerous. Perlmutter reportedly had questioned the need for office supplies at the Marvel Comics New York-based office and suggested that the office just have one unisex restroom. Another story has him upset that journalists on a set junket were allowed to have two sodas instead of limiting them to just one. The recent cancellation of the Fantastic Four comic and the gradual disappearance of those characters from much of Marvel’s promotional images was reportedly done on orders from Perlmutter, allegedly in anger over terms in the film rights to the Fantastic Four that were sold before he acquired Marvel in 1997. In last year’s Sony hack, an email from Perlmutter was discovered where he disparaged the idea of female-lead superhero movies as “disasters.”
So what does this mean for what audiences will see on the big screen in Marvel movies going forward?
That’s hard to answer, as there has never been much in concrete reporting as to how much of an influence Perlmutter has had on the final product. It may be that the numerous reports of Marvel Studios’ parsimoniousness for film budgets and at contract negotiation times may have their origins in Perlmutter-issued directives. A Hollywood Reporter source stated that Feige had been feeling “several years of frustration” in his dealings with Perlmutter.
Fortunately, Feige has been able to come out on top against Perlmutter in a number of disagreements. Perlmutter was reportedly very much against the deal that Marvel Studios struck with Sony to share the rights for Spider-Man, allowing the wall crawling superhero to appear in both studios’ films. Spider-Man will first appear in next May’s Captain America: Civil War, a film that almost was scrapped when Perlmutter objected to paying Robert Downey Jr.’s full quote to appear in the film.
Since we don’t know what fights Feige may have not been able to win against Perlmutter it is hard to gauge how things will look with him out of the way now. I dare say that things will go along pretty much as they have already been laid out for Marvel Studio’s Phase Three slate through 2019. But after that? Well, if Feige sticks around and doesn’t get pulled up into a higher position in the Disney hierarchy I would expect even grander things to come.