A combative several years between Disney and Marvel executive Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter came to an end Wednesday, when the entertainment company laid off the eccentric billionaire as part of a broader cost-cutting effort that includes folding Marvel Entertainment—the small consumer products division he oversaw—into other business units.
The famously low-profile Perlmutter has been a thorn in Disney’s side since selling Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in 2009. He spent “years” reportedly frustrating Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige before the lucrative film business was moved out from under his purview in 2015, and more recently wielded influence behind the scenes as his friend, activist investor Nelson Peltz, made a play to join the Disney board. Peltz went on to wage a proxy fight with Disney as the company faced growing pressure to cut costs and clarify its succession plans. The New York Times, which broke the news that Perlmutter was being laid off, reported that his departure has been the subject of speculation ever since Peltz ended the battle in February.
Vanquishing Perlmutter represents a strong power play by Disney CEO Bob Iger, who returned to lead the company in November after a nearly three-year hiatus. It comes amid an expected, yet still substantial, round of layoffs for the company, which is expected to cut 7,000 jobs by summer.
Disney is looking for $5.5 billion in cost savings by end of fiscal 2024 as it focuses on a streaming-first future. One source within the company described the morale as “pretty horrible” since Iger first announced the layoffs during the company earnings call in February, and expressed relief that the Band-Aid is finally being ripped off.
In a memo to staff sent Monday, a copy of which Vanity Fair obtained, Iger said that layoffs would begin this week, with a larger round taking place in April. He added that he expects the layoffs to be completed before the beginning of summer. “The difficult reality of many colleagues and friends leaving Disney is not something we take lightly,” he wrote. As part of the layoffs, Disney has also eliminated its roughly 50-person Metaverse unit and consolidated some television production jobs.
Source : VanityFair