I’ve been a Disney watcher for a long, long time. Disney is fascinating in how one man has turned his personality into a money-generator that’s kept going, and kept all his quirks, even decades after he died. And they’ve just made a move that’s classic Disney… which should worry nerds.
It sounds like a boring org-chart reshuffle; Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios will now report to Alan Horn, the current head of Disney, instead of Marvel Entertainment’s Isaac Perlmutter. What’s telling is how Deadline put it, emphasis added by us:
A year after Marvel Studios moved onto the Disney lot, its president, Kevin Feige, has orchestrated a reorganization that sees him reporting directly to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn, wresting oversight of the film division away from Marvel Entertainment COO Ike Perlmutter. The reorganization, which took effect last week, only affects the film division; television and other Marvel endeavors remain under Perlmutter’s purview.
Perlmutter is something of a control freak; his willingness to budget down to the last paper clip is legendary, and when Disney bought Marvel for an increasingly bargain-basement $4 billion, it was widely believed he thought he was going to bring the Perlmutter Way to Disney. And now, here we are: Perlmutter’s had his crown jewel taken away from him. Sure, he’s still got the TV projects, but all of those have heavy Disney involvement, and can be taken away, too.
Truthfully, if you know what to look for, you saw this coming. Disney is absolutely ruthless about one thing above all: Mickey Mouse. What Disney does with Mickey is a good indication of its state of mind, so the fact that Disney sold reprint rights to its comic books published overseas to IDW, rather than have the comic book publisher they own put it out along with all those comic books based on Disneyland rides, was a glaring indication that something was wrong.
What’s Marvel’s future at Disney? Good question. A mark in Marvel’s favor is that Disney put them on making Star Wars books; for all the nerd gloating about Marvel’s market share, take Star Wars out of the equation and Marvel wouldn’t be having nearly as good a year. But the issue remains that Disney’s more interested in Marvel’s characters and movies than in its publishing operations, and it just took Marvel’s biggest business interest for itself.