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Marvel Announces New Independent Producer Deal with Avi Arad

by  in Comic News Comment
Marvel Announces New Independent Producer Deal with Avi Arad

Official Press Release

Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: MVL), 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 Mr. Arad.


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 at UCLA.


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.


Webcast


Marvel will host a conference call and simultaneous webcast today at 9:00 a.m. EDT to review the management transition at Marvel Studios. The webcast is available at www.marvel.com/webcasts or at www.fulldisclosure.com. An archived version of the webcast will be available for 30 days.


About Marvel Entertainment, Inc.


With a library of over 5,000 characters, Marvel Entertainment, Inc. is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies. Marvel’s operations are focused on utilizing its character franchises in licensing, entertainment, publishing and toys. Areas of emphasis include feature films, DVD/home video, consumer products, video games, action figures and role-playing toys, television and promotions. Rooted in the creative success of over sixty years of comic book publishing, Marvel’s strategy is to leverage its character franchises in a growing array of opportunities around the world.


Except for any historical information that they contain, the statements in this news release regarding Marvel’s plans are forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, including a decrease in the level of media exposure or popularity of Marvel’s characters, financial difficulties of Marvel’s licensees, changing consumer preferences, delays and cancellations of movies and television productions based on Marvel characters, transition difficulties between licensees, toy-production delays or shortfalls, continued concentration of toy retailers, toy inventory risk, significant appreciation of Chinese currency against other currencies and the imposition of quotas or tariffs on products manufactured in China.


In addition, in connection with Marvel’s studio operations, including those related to the slate of feature films Marvel plans to produce on its own with proceeds from its $525 million film slate facility (the “Film Facility”), the following factors, among others, could cause Marvel’s or Marvel Studios’ financial performance to differ materially from that expressed in any forward-looking statements: (i) Marvel Studios’ potential inability to attract and retain creative talent, (ii) the potential lack of popularity of Marvel’s films, (iii) the expense associated with producing films, (iv) union activity which could interrupt film production, (v) that Marvel Studios has not, in the past, produced film projects on its own, (vi) changes or disruptions in the way films are distributed, including a decline in the profitability of the DVD market, (vii) piracy of films and related products, (viii) Marvel Studios’ dependence on a single distributor, (ix) that Marvel will depend on its distributor for the implementation of internal controls related to the accounting of film-production activities, (x) Marvel’s potential inability to meet the conditions necessary for an initial funding of a film under the Film Facility, (xi) Marvel’s potential inability to obtain financing to make more than four films if certain tests related to the economic performance of the film slate are not satisfied (specifically, an interim asset test and a foreign pre-sales test) and (xii) fluctuations in reported income or loss related to the accounting of film-production activities.


These and other risks and uncertainties are described in Marvel’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including Marvel’s Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K. Marvel assumes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements.

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