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Marvel…at the spin

God, we love Hollywood: Even when someone appears to have been shot out of a cannon, it can still be made to sound marvelous.

As is the case at Marvel Entertainment, which today shed Avi Arad as its chairman and CEO.

Viz, the Hollywood Reporter: “Fresh off his successful turn as producer of ‘X-Men: The Last Stand,’ which enjoyed one of the biggest opening weekends in boxoffice history, Avi Arad has stepped down as head of Marvel Entertainment’s film studio to run his own production company.”

Right. Because anyone in their right mind would leave that job voluntarily. Marvel’s stock shot down nearly 4% on the news, and rightfully so.

Arad, of course, engineered one of the greatest turnarounds of Hollywood history. Before he and Ike Perlmutter came in, Marvel was so broke it, it literally had to auction off its front door to emerge from bankruptcy. Arad’s hits need to introduction: Sony’s “Spider-man” and its sequels not only saved Marvel, it saved Amy Pascal‘s job as chairman of Columbia pictures.captain america.JPG

But the company has had difficulty replicating that success. “Hulk” was a costly underperformer. “Daredevil” barely crawled to $100 million, and its spin-off, “Elektra” well, let’s just say Jennifer Garner was forced at gunpoint into that leather bodysuit. We’ll leave aside “The Punisher” and “Man-thing.” No need to get bitchy, now.

No, based on what Arad is taking with him, it looks like he’s being given or given himself a golden parachute: A piece of how ever many “Spider-man’s” can be made at Sony, the damaged-goods “Hulk” and the iffy “Iron Man,” – the latter of which has staunchly refused to be made at New Line Cinema for the last five years.

The future doesn’t look terribly bright, but today looks mah-velous, as Variety points out:

“Not only is Arad basking in the glow of the boffo $122.9 million opening for “X-Men: the Last Stand”– which made it politically easier to exit now — but he has 3.15 million shares in Marvel Entertainment that vested last Friday. Arad immediately moved to sell the shares Wednesday, making nearly $60 million in the process.”

Whether he jumped or was pushed, Avi got while the gettin’ was good.

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