Isaac Perlmutter Notoriously frugal The Marvel Entertainment chairman, who worked unsuccessfully to shake up The Walt Disney Company’s board of directors last year, has been fired as part of a cost-cutting drive.
Disney confirmed the move. Mr. Perlmutter, 80, was told on the phone Wednesday that Marvel Entertainment, a small division focused on consumer products and operated separately from Marvel Studios, was redundant and would be consolidated into larger Disney business units, according to two of the directors. Disney executives familiar with the matter spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive personal matter.
Disney on Monday began cutting 7,000 jobs, about 4 percent of its global total, as part of $5.5 billion in cuts aimed at improving Disney’s financial results and positioning the company for driven growth.
Mr. Perlmutter, known as Ike, could not immediately be reached for comment.
A short-tempered and relentless CEO, Mr. Perlmutter has been seen as a distraction within Disney for more than a decade—most recently when he pushed a friend, activist investor Nelson Peltz, to join Disney’s board of directors.
Mr. Perlmutter contacted Disney board members and senior Disney executives six times from August to November to pressure Mr. Peltz to join the board, according to a securities filing. When he’s turned down, Mr. Peltz starts a proxy battle to put himself on the board, saying he’ll cut costs, revamp Disney’s streaming business and clean up the company’s messy succession planning.
Mr. Peltz pulled out in February when Disney CEO Robert Iger unveiled restructuring and cost cuts, along with a possible return of Disney’s profits.
Since then, Mr. Perlmutter’s future at Disney has been the subject of water-cooler discussion within the company, with most employees concluding that his days are numbered. On Wednesday, Disney also laid off Rob Stevens, co-president of Marvel Entertainment, and Jon Turitzen, senior advisor to the division.
A Disney spokesperson confirmed the job cuts at Marvel Entertainment, but declined to comment further.
Dan Buckley, President of Marvel Entertainment, will remain, reporting to Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios. Previously, Mr. Buckley had reported to him and Mr. Perlmutter.
Mr. Perlmutter sold Marvel to Disney in 2009 for $4 billion. He took control of the superhero corporation in the late 1990s and greatly expanded the business by licensing properties like the X-Men and Spider-Man to movie studios.
Mr. Perlmutter’s involvement with Marvel as a whole has greatly diminished over the years. He has did not participate With Marvel films since 2015, when a feud with Mr. Feige over costs related to the “Doctor Strange” movie boiled over. (Mr. Perlmutter wanted to sack Mr. Feige, and Mr. Egger overruled him.) Mr. Perlmutter Censorship lost of the Marvel TV shows in 2019.
By the end, Mr. Perlmutter’s job was limited to businesses like publishing comics, which generate between $40 and $60 million in sales annually, according to analysts. (For example, Disney’s total revenue was about $83 billion in 2022.) He’s also been involved in licensing Marvel toys, some consumer products, and superhero shows. Marvel Entertainment is based in New York.
Arguably, Disney allowed Mr. Perlmutter to keep his fiefdom long after it made sense for him to do so. He’s an important Disney shareholder, and there was a sense of obligation: Without him, Disney wouldn’t have Marvel.
Mr. Perlmutter’s enthusiasm for corporate economics in the service of profit is well known in the entertainment business. In one particularly vivid example, he used to take paper clips out of the trash cans at Marvel offices to reuse them. The folks at Marvel are still talking about the time he suggested serving potato chips at a movie premiere to save on food costs.
To keep a close eye on the activities in the Marvel offices, Mr. Perlmutter at one point installed no fewer than 20 cameras. Disney ripped them off several years ago. However, his efforts to have a say in the Marvel movies continued. Last fall, he demanded financial information related to Mr. Feige’s operation and questioned the decision to spend $200 million to make a “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” sequel. (The film ended up taking in $956 million worldwide.)
Mr. Perlmutter’s concern with Mr. Iger’s decision to remove oversight from the Marvel movie industry was also well known. In February, when Disney thwarted a proxy battle, Mr. Iger appeared on CNBC He was asked about Mr. Perlmutter’s involvement in the change effort. Is the disagreement perhaps fueling it?
“Well, you’ll have to ask Ike about that,” said Mr. Egger. “But let’s put it this way: He wasn’t happy about it. And I think the unhappiness is there today.”
In addition, Mr. Perlmutter made it clear that he did not like Mr. Egger’s politics. Mr. Perlmutter supported President Donald J. Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns, and recently indicated he would support Trump’s campaign in 2024. Mr. Iger is a Democrat who has been vocal about inclusion; He defended films like Marvel’s “Black Panther” even as he fought back against Mr. Perlmutter.
On Monday, Mr. Iger told Disney employees in an email that the layoffs would come in three batches, with the first occurring this week. More important jobs will be cut in April, with the final batch “before summer begins.”
Besides Marvel Entertainment, the areas affected this week included cable TV production and content acquisition. like first reported According to The Wall Street Journal, Disney has also eliminated a 50-person metaverse division dedicated to “next-generation storytelling and consumer experiences,” none of which has yet come to fruition.
The shutdown of the nascent reverse effort was noteworthy because the division was created with great fanfare by Bob Chapek, who was fired in November as CEO of Disney. Mr. Egger has come out of retirement to take back the reins of the company.
“Typical beer trailblazer. Hipster-friendly web buff. Certified alcohol fanatic. Internetaholic. Infuriatingly humble zombie lover.”