Hey folks, Harry here... word has come in from all over the place that Avi Arad and Ari Arad have left MARVEL. If true, this would mean the new guy in charge of the whole Marvel film universe would be Kevin Feige. Is this a good turn of events for the Marvel Universe? Honestly, I don't know. Sure, I haven't been very happy with the Fox MARVEL films recently... ELECTRA, FANTASTIC FOUR and X-MEN 3... but they have earned significant money. I've never spoken with Kevin Feige, Moriarty knows him and seems to feel he's very sharp and has a good head for Marvel and its properties... Having said that, Avi Arad has been both a hero and villain in the realm of Marvel and Comic Book cinema. Bringing talented directors like Ang Lee, Bryan Singer, Sam Raimi, Jon Favreau, Guillermo Del Toro, Steve Norrington to their properties... but at the same time he's brought some less talented directors... rolling the dice on newer talent... that has crapped out on us, but usually with good scripts. However, a lot of those sorts of problems on the worst Marvel films came from Studio interferance and the last conversation I had with Avi - he was very very excited about being able to independently produce Marvel films with a distribution partner in Paramount. Why has he decided to leave? Was he forced out? At Cannes this year they were working on raising the warchest to produce more products, did that go badly? Or is Avi tired of it all and just wants to produce his own films... does his exit from Marvel come tied with some of Marvel's properties to produce? We'll find out soon enough, I called both Avi and Kevin at MARVEL, but have yet to hear back. I'm sure we'll hear soon enough.
Avi just sent me the press release:
MARVEL ANNOUNCES NEW INDEPENDENT PRODUCER DEAL WITH AVI ARAD
- Michael Helfant and Kevin Feige to Lead Marvel Studios as President/COO and President, Production -
- Arad Will Continue to Produce Spider-Man 3, its Sequels and Marvel's Own Productions of Hulk and Iron Man -
NEW YORK--May 31, 2006--Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: MVL), a global character-based entertainment and licensing company, today announced that the company has entered into a new arrangement with Avi Arad to independently produce films for Marvel under his own production company banner, Avi Arad Productions. In this new capacity, Mr. Arad will remain actively involved in Marvel's upcoming film slate, including Iron Man and Hulk, the first two films anticipated to be financed and produced by Marvel under its new film financing slate. Mr. Arad will also remain attached to produce various licensed productions, including the upcoming Spider-Man 3, scheduled for release next year, and subsequent sequels. Consistent with this restructuring, Mr. Arad is resigning from his corporate positions as Chairman and CEO of Marvel Studios, Chief Creative Officer of Marvel and a Marvel director, but will continue to serve as Creative Advisor for Marvel through the remainder of 2006.
Michael Helfant, President and COO of Marvel Studios, and Kevin Feige, Marvel Studio's President of Production, will lead Marvel Studios and its continuing development of a growing slate of feature films, television and other entertainment projects. Mr. Helfant, an industry veteran with over 17 years of production experience, was recruited to Marvel last year to manage the expanded scope of studio operations; and Mr. Feige, recently appointed President of Production, has worked side by side with Mr. Arad for the past eight years during Marvel's impressive production run.
"I have helped to build Marvel into a very special company, and on the heels of the tremendous success of X-Men: The Last Stand, I felt like it was the right time for me to move away from the day to day corporate responsibilities in order to focus on what I love best - creating and producing. I am leaving behind a great team to run the studio, and I expect to remain actively involved in the development and production of many Marvel films in the years to come," said Mr. Arad.
Mort Handel, Marvel's Chairman of the Board, commented, "Avi has been a driving force at Marvel, and he and his team are credited with producing some of the highest grossing films in history, including this past weekend's blockbuster X-Men: The Last Stand and Spider-Man, Hulk, and Fantastic Four. His vision and leadership will be missed, but we understand Avi's desire to pursue a broader array of opportunities and wish him the best of luck. Going forward, we are fortunate to have a deep bench led by Michael Helfant and Kevin Feige who will assume the bulk of Avi's company responsibilities." In addition, Sid Ganis, a Marvel Director, Independent Producer and the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will assist Marvel during the transition.
Michael Helfant, who joined Marvel in November 2005, has over 22 years of entertainment industry experience, most recently as COO of Beacon Pictures, a major independent motion picture production company whose recent feature film releases include Open Range, Raising Helen and Ladder 49. Prior to Beacon, Mr. Helfant was Senior Executive Vice President of Dimension Films (SPY Kids, Scream and Scary Movie franchises, and The Others), a division of Miramax Film Corp. from 1999-2002. Mr. Helfant also served as Executive Vice President, Head of Business Operations and Acquisitions at Interscope Communications, Inc. (Runaway Bride, Pitch Black, Mr. Holland's Opus and Jumanji), and Senior Vice President of Sovereign Pictures, Inc (Reversal of Fortune, My Left Foot, The Commitments and Cinema Paradiso). Mr. Helfant started his career as an entertainment attorney with Loeb & Loeb in Century City. Mr. Helfant is a graduate of the JD/MBA program at UCLA.
Kevin Feige has over ten years of entertainment experience, including eight years developing feature films and entertainment based on Marvel characters. He joined Marvel Studios in 2000 as Executive Vice President and was recently promoted to President, Production. He has been actively involved in Marvel's feature film projects, serving as Executive Producer on X-Men: The Last Stand, Spider-Man 2, The Hulk, The Punisher and Fantastic Four; Co-Producer on X-Men: United and Daredevil and as a production executive on Spider-Man. Prior to joining Marvel Studios, Mr. Feige worked for Producer Lauren Shuler Donner and Director Richard Donner at The Donners' Company. While there, he worked on films including Volcano, starring Tommy Lee Jones and the hit romantic comedy You've Got Mail, directed by Nora Ephron and starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. He then transitioned into development which led to an Associate Producer role on the film that revamped the comic book genre, X-Men. It was there that he started his work in the Marvel Universe, developing the X-Men feature for two years with Lauren and Director Bryan Singer, and serving as the film's Associate Producer. Mr. Feige graduated from the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television.