EXCLUSIVE: Everybody is trying to keep this secret. But I’ve learned that yesterday Disney canned Dana Precious, EVP of Worldwide Marketing for Marvel’s LA Studios (she had replaced Doug Finberg at the end of last summer); Jeffrey Stewart, VP of Worldwide Marketing (he’d been brought in by Dana); and Jodi Miller, Manager of Worldwide Marketing. That’s essentially Marvel’s entire marketing department. Marvel redundant jobs were on the line ever since Disney bought the publisher/studio in 2009. And the marketing department even more so this summer after Paramount released Thor and Captain America domestically and internationally, thus effectively ending that studio’s marketing and distribution of Marvel pictures. I’m told that on June 24th, Rob Steffens, who is Marvel Studios’ EVP Operations, met with all of the department at the Manhattan Beach offices in what was described as a “Disney Rules of the Road” meeting. He told staff that there would be no house-cleaning by the mouse, period, so they were not to fear for their jobs and flee en masse. So much for that promise.
The official line on why Marvel’s marketing team was let go is that Disney will be taking over that function and handling the releases of The Avengers and future Marvel movies themselves. In fact I’ve learned that Marvel will bring in someone in a “project management role”. But Kevin Feige’s continued supervision of all things Marvel should resolve any doubts by fanboys that Disney will screw around or screw up the comic book films. Insiders tell me that Precious and her team were not well-loved by Marvel bigwig Feige and other top execs at Marvel or by Disney and Paramount. (Some of the comments I heard today included: “Not up to or have the skill set to release this brand properly”… “Their job was to keep track of the people doing the real work”… “Paper pushers”… “Would it have killed them to return an email?”… “Disney doesn’t need someone to cut its trailers”…)
Now Marvel staffers wonder whether the firings were really to avoid duplicating efforts with Disney or just petty vindictiveness. If it’s the latter, then jobs are safe. But if it’s the former, then any jobs redundant in terms of Disney’s infrastructure aren’t. Trying to reassure the Marvel folks, one insider tells me today, “If you do your job and are smart and understand the business, you shouldn’t worry.”