Marvel Ent. Inc. has entered into a new arrangement with Avi Arad to independently produce films for Marvel under his own production company banner, Avi Arad Prods. 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.
Arad will also remain attached to produce various licensed productions, including the upcoming SPIDER-MAN 3, scheduled for release next year, and subsequent sequels. Arad is resigning as chairman/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.
Michaell Helfant, president/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. Helfant, an industry veteran with more than 17 years of production experience, was recruited to Marvel last year to manage the expanded scope of studio operations. Feige, recently appointed president of production, has worked side by side with 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," saidArad.
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.
Helfant, who joined Marvel in November 2005, has some 22 years of entertainment industry experience. Most recently he was 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, Helfant was sevp of Dimension Films (SPY KIDS, SCREAM and SCARY MOVIE franchises, and THE OTHERS), a division of Miramax Film Corp. from 1999-2002.
Helfant was evp/head of business operations and acquisitions at Interscope Communications Inc. (RUNAWAY BRIDE, PITCH BLACK, MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS and JUMANJI), and svp of Sovereign Pictures, Inc (REVERSAL OF FORTUNE, MY LEFT FOOT, THE COMMITMENTS AND CINEMA PARADISO). Helfant started his career as an entertainment attorney with Loeb & Loeb in Century City, California.
Feige has 10 years of entertainment experience, including eight years developing feature films and entertainment based on Marvel characters. He joined Marvel Studios in 2000 as evp and was recently promoted to president, production. He has been actively involved in Marvel's feature film projects, serving as exec producer on X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, SPIDER-MAN 2, THE HULK, THE PUNISHER and FANTASTIC FOUR. He was co-producer on X-MEN: UNITED and DAREDEVIL and was a production exec on SPIDER-MAN.
Prior to joining Marvel Studios, Feige worked for producer Lauren Shuler Donner and director Richard Donner at The Donners' Co. on films, including VOLCANO, starring Tommy Lee Jones and the hit romantic comedy, YOU'VE GOT MAIL. He then transitioned into development and was associate producer 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.
With a library of more than 5,000 characters, New York City-based Marvel Ent. (www.marvel.com) 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, videogames, action figures and role-playing toys, television and promotions. Rooted in the creative success of more than 60 years of comicbook publishing, Marvel's strategy is to leverage its character franchises in a growing array of opportunities around the world.