David Maisel will soon be an ex-super hero. The Chairman of Marvel Studios, who helped build the comic book company into an action movie powerhouse, is leaving the New York-based company once its $4 billion deal with the Walt Disney is finalized, BusinessWeek has learned. Maisel confirmed his departure, which could come shortly after the acquisition is finalized, expected to be Dec. 31.
Maisel, a one-time talent agent, says he intends to stay on as executive producer for three of the films that Marvel has put into production, Iron Man 2, Captain America and Thor, and will also be a part of Marvel’s effort to resurrect a Broadway show based on Spider-Man. “I couldn’t ask for a better six year ride,” says Maisel, “but now I get to work on projects that I like and explore other opportunities.” He would not say what he intends to do next.
Maisel was the first Marvel executive to discuss the notion of a sale with Disney, according to documents that Marvel filed with the SEC. Maisel and Iger, who knew each other from Maisel’s year at Disney in the mid-90s, would often do lunch. Iger broached the notion of a deal and Maisel took to Marvel’s brass. The deal was finally agreed upon on August 31 for $50 in Disney stock and cash. Maisel, who made $5,2 million in cash, stock and incentives in 2008, is to collect an estimated $20.3 million in accelerated stock options and other benefits tied to the sale.
At Marvel, Maisel was instrumental in helping to build Marvel into a separate production entity, rather than continuing to license its films to other studios. In 2005, he engineered a $525 million film production facility that gave the company the funds to bankroll its own films and which Paramount would distribute for the company. Marvel’s first film under that agreement, the 2008 flick Iron Man, grossed more than $318 million at the US box office.
Kevin Feige, president of the studio and its top creative executive, is expected to stay with the studio after the deal is completed. Marvel and Disney both had no comment on the pending deal.