Marvel Entertainment’s Ike Perlmutter Quit Amid Disney Layoffs

Walt Disney Co. has fired Marvel Entertainment chairman Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter.

The 80-year-old comics titan, who has long had a prickly presence at entertainment company Burbank, was caught up in a broad-based cost-cutting drive that began earlier this week. Disney confirmed Perlmutter had received his pink briefs.

When Disney bought comic book publisher Marvel in 2009, Perlmutter immediately became one of the entertainment conglomerate’s largest single shareholders, granting it rare powers. Disney has given the Israeli-American billionaire a wide berth to help create Marvel projects including Iron Man and The Avengers — films that have earned Disney billions of dollars in box office receipts.

In recent years, Perlmutter’s remit has been significantly smaller and separate from the powerful Marvel film studio headed by Kevin Feige.

Although Perlmutter was once Marvel’s chief executive, he saw his role diminished in a 2015 management shuffle. Disney had Feige, the architect of Marvel’s lucrative film strategy, report to Disney’s then studio boss Alan Horn in place of Perlmutter.

Perlmutter played a supporting role in Disney’s recent corporate drama, lobbying Disney leadership to support billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz’s campaign to join the Disney board of directors.

Peltz’s efforts began last year before Chief Executive Bob Iger returned to the company. At the time, Bob Chapek was still in charge, and Perlmutter called the embattled CEO along with Disney CFO Christine McCarthy and board member Safra Catz to lobby for Peltz’s addition to the board. After Iger returned in November, he made it clear that Peltz was not welcome on the board.

Instead, Iger focused on a corporate restructuring and cost-cutting program to deliver $5.5 billion in savings. The plan involves cutting about 7,000 jobs, or about 4% of Disney’s global workforce, which began this week.

The cost-cutting that ultimately cost Perlmutter his job won the support of Peltz, who disbanded his proxy campaign.

This was first reported by the New York Times Perlmutter had been fired.

According to Disney, Perlmutter said Peltz would “Mr. Helping Chapek weather the recent headwinds he has faced to solidify his position as CEO and forestall any other potential shareholder nominations from director candidates.”

According to Disney’s filing, Perlmutter said that “without Mr. Peltz, previous executives, including Mr. Iger, would be back at Disney.”

“This guy’s whole life is dedicated to success,” former Marvel exec Scott M. Sassa told The Times in 2012. Perlmutter has proven particularly adept at getting companies into trouble, Sassa noted.

“He’s not Mr. Charming, but once you get to know him, he’s a guy I really like,” Sassa said. “He’s super smart, incredibly loyal to people, and very principled.”

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