Avi Arad, a former Marvel CEO who now serves as one of the producers for "The Amazing Spider-Man" franchise for Sony, slams a BusinessWeek article that gives most of the credits for the birth of Marvel Cinematic Universe to current chief Kevin Feige. Arad especially takes offense to a part of the article that suggests he held the studio back and was not very supportive of its self-financing plan.
In the Bloomberg piece, journalist Devin Leonard wrote, "Finally, Marvel decided to create its own studio. In 2005 it put up as collateral the film rights to characters it still controlled, such as Captain America and Nick Fury, and got $525 million in financing from Merrill Lynch. Arad, who had doubts about the strategy, resigned the following year. Feige was named studio chief in 2007. He was 33 years old, and he was in charge of Hollywood's first major independent movie studio since DreamWorks."
In response, Arad wrote an email addressed to the writer, "I am sure you were told by Marvel that I resigned over the self-financing strategy. It is about time for a reporter like you to do your homework and check the facts. It will sound arrogant to you, but I single handedly put together the Marvel slate."
The producer said it actually was thank to him that Marvel struck a partnership deal that reportedly gave the studio $525 million for funding. "You should reach out to Merill Lynch and Ambac Insurance and to our international partners that came on board based on my track record. Our financial partners counted on my reputation. I had to work very hard to convert the doubters," he stated.
Arad also took credits for getting back Iron Man back from New Line. "Without Iron Man this article would have not been written," he said of the first superhero movie which Marvel had a complete creative control of. "Iron Man was not even in the original slate. I knew that we needed it so I set out to get it back from Newline and the rest is history."
He went on to reveal his contributions to make the deal with Paramount happen. "Our financing would have never happened without me reaching out to Brad Grey [Paramount's CEO and Chairman] to make a distribution deal that will give you a corporate guarantee. Other people in Marvel worked for many months with Universal and could not reach a deal."
"I got tired of waiting and went to Brad. The deal was done in days, successful for both companies. The big presentation to financial institutions and insurance companies took place on the Paramount lot. I was the presenter and it worked. Does this sound to you like someone who disagreed with the strategy to make our own movies?"
"I have forgiven Kevin for following orders and taking the credit, but he had no choice," Arad said, before calling out the journalist, "Shame on you for kowtowing to your business gods. I have given up on journalistic integrity. You called me to talk about Kevin and I gave you the most true and glowing account on someone that I love and respect. Share your notes otherwise you just wasted my time."
Arad, who now owns a production company, additionally told Deadline to explain the reason why he left Marvel. "I left because I wanted to leave. It was nothing other than it was time to go. The company was growing and I didn't like committees and I was 60 and was doing well as it was," he uttered.
"I took a walk and thought, 'I'm too old for this.' And I thought if I keep nothing but Spider-Man, I will continue with Marvel, but I can do other things. I wanted to do other things ... and I am now. The company is in good hands with Kevin who doing a great job.'
In response to Arad's complain, a representative for BusinessWeek said in a statement, "Devin Leonard did receive this email from Avi Arad, and an email exchange followed between them. We stand by the reporting in our story."