In a move that comes as a complete and utter surprise,
Marvel has officially announced that Avi Arad will be leaving Marvel Entertainment,
Inc., in order to pursue his own projects.
Avi Arad Leaves Marvel
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 31, 2006--Marvel
-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
Marvel Entertainment, Inc., 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
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
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.
Does Arad's departure spell bad news for Marvel films? Don't count on it,
both parties are expected to continue on just fine; Kevin Feige is a more
than suitable replacement.
Stay tuned for updates.