Changes at the top of Marvel, as Disney begins layoffs, eliminating 7000 jobs

The New York Times reports the Walt Disney Company has laid off Marvel Entertainment Chairman Isaac Perlmutter, and will incorporate the comics division and the rest of Marvel Entertainment into other units of the company.

Perlmutter, who the Times describes as having a reputation for corporate frugality, was the CEO of Marvel when it was acquired by Disney in 2009, selling it to the company for $4 billion.

The newspaper reports the move is part of a cost-cutting campaign, and followed Mr. Perlmutter’s unsuccessful effort to shake up Disney’s board, siding with activist investor Nelson Peltz in a boardroom fight with Iger earlier this year.

Marvel Entertainment President Dan Buckley will remain and will report to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, presumably with Buckley’s core division, Marvel’s publishing operations, still in his portfolio.

Marvel Entertainment Co-President Rob Steffens and Chief Counsel John Turitzin have also been let go, as Disney begins a major streamlining operation that includes eliminating 7000 jobs, in a bid to save $5.5 billion.

Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, unveiled a restructuring and the cost cuts in February, along with the likely restoration of Disney’s dividend. On Monday, Mr. Iger told Disney employees in an email that layoffs would come in three waves, with the first happening this week. More substantial job eliminations will occur in April, with a final group “before the beginning of summer.”

The Times reports analyst estimates of the annual revenue from Marvel Comics , best known for its superhero comics, at $40-$60 million, compared to total company revenue of about $83 billion.

The Marvel Universe

“The layoff is the final step in a process of sidelining Perlmutter that began in 2015 when Marvel Studios, with Kevin Feige in charge, was removed from Perlmutter’s purview and put under Walt Disney Studios,” write Brigid Alverson, and Milton Griepp for the comics business site, ICV2.

Dan Buckley, who had been Marvel Publisher since 2003, was promoted to President of Marvel Entertainment, reporting to Perlmutter, in 2017, with authority over publishing, games, television, digital, global brand management, and the franchise groups, which include licensing and merchandising.

Feige took control over Marvel TV shows on Disney+ in early 2019, and took over creative control of the entire Marvel Entertainment division later the same year, with Buckley reporting to Feige on creative matters and to Perlmutter on operational ones. Marvel Television was shut down shortly thereafter, with Marvel Studios taking over Marvel television operations.

At this stage, it’s unclear where all the parts of Marvel Entertainment will end up, with the possibility that some portions will end up in divisions other than Marvel Studios.

• New York Times: Disney Lays Off Ike Perlmutter, Chairman of Marvel Entertainment (Subscription may be required)

ICV2: Perlmutter Out, Feige now Buckley’s Boss

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