Ike Perlmutter Says Disney Fired Him From Marvel Over ‘Fundamental Differences,’ Denies Trying to Boot Kevin Feige

The former Marvel Entertainment chairman also says he told Ron DeSantis that Disney “doesn’t have the right to get involved in politics”


Former Marvel Entertainment chairman Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter disputes reports that he was part of Disney’s layoffs when he lost his job in March, instead contending he was fired over “fundamental differences.”

In a rare interview with the Wall Street Journal, the longtime Marvel executive called the layoffs a “convenient excuse” to get rid of him.

“I have no doubt that my termination was based on fundamental differences in business between my thinking and Disney leadership, because I care about return on investment,” he said. “[The layoffs were] merely a convenient excuse to get rid of a longtime executive who dared to challenge the company’s way of doing business.”

Disney did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Perlmutter, who has a reputation for being a penny-pincher, said that he long tried to rein in budgets at Marvel.

“All they talk about is box office, box office,” he said. “I care about the bottom line. I don’t care how big the box office is. Only people in Hollywood talk about box office.”

As Marvel Entertainment chairman, Perlmutter oversaw Marvel Studios output until 2015, when Marvel Studios president and creative architect Kevin Feige successfully moved the unit responsible for the wildly popular Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and shows out from under Perlmutter’s purview, with Feige reporting directly to then-Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn.

Perlmutter’s frequent cost-cutting and refusal to greenlight female-led or POC-led films like “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel” put him in frequent conflict with Feige.

Disney CEO Bob Iger said in February that Perlmutter was “intent on firing” Feige in 2015, but Perlmutter denied Iger’s assertion in the WSJ interview, saying their disagreements were over movie budgets.

Bob Iger Ike Perlmutter Kevin Feige
Bob Iger and Kevin Feige in 2019 (Getty Images)

Earlier this year, Perlmutter tried, unsuccessfully, to shake up Disney’s board by backing his longtime friend Nelson Peltz in a proxy fight.

“My experience with any major corporation, when they’re having problems and they don’t have the free cash or whatever it is, usually people like Nelson Peltz know how to put it back on track,” Perlmutter said. “I learned one thing about creative people my whole life: You cannot give them an open credit card.…They’re doing this for 30 years, why would they change?”

Perlmutter also said in the interview that he called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and told him Disney “doesn’t have the right to get involved with politics.” Earlier this week, Iger defended Disney’s right to push back on Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and called DeSantis’ retaliatory actions against Disney “anti-business.”

Perlmutter also revealed he raised concerns with former Disney CEO Bob Chapek over Marvel’s spending. He said Chapek agreed but didn’t have the ability to do anything about it.

“There was no way to force the issue because the creative people at the Walt Disney Company are very powerful,” Perlmutter said.

Perlmutter’s ouster and comments about Marvel spending come as Disney is cutting costs across the board, laying off 7,000 employees in a “strategic alignment.”