When Disney Ordered Ike Perlmutter to Stop Blocking Black Panther and Captain Marvel Movies
Disney executive Bob Iger's new autobiography The Ride of A Lifetime, looks at a number of contentious moments in Disney's history, including dealing with Marvel Studios. And includes the claim that Iger overruled concerns about the box office potential of Black Panther and Captain Marvel and ordered Marvel Comics chair Ike Perlmutter to put the movies into development.
The book states that current Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige was on board with both movies, but cites an unnamed Marvel exec in the New York offices that movies led by Black actors underperformed in the international film market. Bleeding Cool also broke the story four years ago from the Sony Wikileaks files, that Perlmutter sent e-mails to Sony's Michael Lynton pointing out the poor performance of superhero movies with women leads.
As we discussed on the phone, below are just a few examples. There are more.
1. Electra (Marvel) – Very bad idea and the end result was very, very bad. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=elektra.htm
2. Catwoman (WB/DC) – Catwoman was one of the most important female character within the Batmanfranchise. This film was a disaster. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=catwoman.htm
3. Supergirl – (DC) Supergirl was one of the most important female super hero in Superman franchise. This Movie came out in 1984 and did $14 million total domestic with opening weekend of $5.5 million. Again, another disaster.
Iger responded, that such conventional wisdom was outdated, and limited opportunities for filmmakers and for films that might resonate with international audiences worldwide. "I've been in the business long enough to have heard every old argument in the book, and I've learned that old arguments are just that: old, and out of step with where the world is and where it should be. We had a chance to make a great movie and to showcase an underrepresented segment of America, and those goals were not mutually exclusive. I called Ike and told him to tell his team to stop putting up roadblocks and ordered that we put both Black Panther and Captain Marvel into production."
It may also be worth pointing out that Perlmutter had greater influence on the television studios productions than the movies, which saw TV series such as Agent Carter and Jessica Jones starring lead solo female characters, and Luke Cage with a lead black character and a large black cast. Perlmutter's beef seems to concern movies rather than TV – and from a purely financial perspective, and not taking into account changes in culture and society, he may have been technically right – but would also have to ignore comics-adjacent movies such as Tomb Raider. Or the plethora of superhero movies that bombed despite having white male leads.
Iger also talked about his decision to take Marvel Comics out of the movie business by giving Marvel Film's head Kevin Feige autonomy, so that the Perlmutter and the Marvel Creative Committee – including Joe Quesada, Brian Bendis, Alan Horn and, at one point, Mark Millar, would have no further influence on the movies being made.
"Kevin is one of the most talented film executives in the business, but my sense was that the strained relationship with New York was threatening his continued success. I knew I had to intervene, and so in May 2015, I made the decision to split Marvel's movie-making unit off from the rest of Marvel and bring it under Alan Horn and the Walt Disney Studios. Kevin would now report directly to Alan, and would benefit from his experience, and the tensions that had built up between him and the New York office would be alleviated."
Perlmutter's representatives did not respond to requests for comment, made yesterday.
Bob Iger's The Ride Of A Lifetime is published by Random House.
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