At this year’s Oscars, Victoria Alonso was stunned.
The Marvel Studios veteran, executive director and producer of the nominated film “Argentina, 1985,” was strutted down the red carpet, pausing in front of paparazzi hired to capture top executives on Hollywood’s big night. But something hit her.
“look at this! Two women!” said Alonso of the female photographers hired at the party (as in most corners of Hollywood, women outnumber men in the photoshoot line). Emotionally, Alonso insisted that the couple put down their cameras and pose for a photo with her in front of a giant Oscar statuette. When they all smiled, she told them, “We worked so hard to get here and we’re not going anywhere.”
After eight days, she was fired as Marvel’s president of physical production, post-production, visual effects and animation, according to three people familiar with the matter. diverse. This change came as a surprise to many in show business and within Marvel’s massive comic book fanbase (a community with a prominent online presence and personal relevance, at the many multiplexes where the studio releases its films).
Alonso’s firing raised many questions about the behind-the-scenes workings at the Precious Content Engine, and with them, another unfavorable news cycle as Disney CEO Bob Iger tries to stabilize its parent company amid economic turmoil.
Sources said that while the reason for Alonso’s termination is unclear, the decision was made by a consortium that includes human resources, Disney’s legal department, and several executives including Disney Entertainment co-chair Alan Bergman (to whom all of Marvel Studios reports). One source added that Alonso’s longtime boss and Marvel Chief Creative Officer Kevin Feige felt sucked into an impossible situation, and ultimately didn’t get involved. Another insider added that Alonso was surprised.
A representative for Alonso declined to comment for this story. Marvel Studios had no comment.
Alonso joined Marvel Studios in 2006, three years before Disney acquired the label for $4 billion. For 17 years, she’s been a fixture under creative director Kevin Feige, standing in for Feige’s right-hand man and co-chair Louis D’Esposito. At the same time, she’s worked towards becoming a brand on her own — a rare LGBT person and woman of color in a visible leadership role, known for her fiery passion and candor about diversity and inclusion in Marvel’s storytelling.
She’s been feted by media watchers and the visual effects communities alike and is about to publish a memoir about her corporate rise, aptly titled “Possibility Is Your Superpower” (which is still due out at Disney for Hyperion Avenue writers).
Where, then, in all of the multiverse did this dramatic fracture occur?
Many sources familiar with Marvel have pointed to the tremendous pressure the unit has been under over the past few years to deliver compelling content, not only to theaters, but also in the form of new streaming shows aimed at bolstering Disney+. In 2021 and 2022, Marvel unloaded an unprecedented torrent of comic book adventures, releasing 17 titles — seven movies, eight streaming series and two TV specials — over the course of 23 months.
This rapid distribution schedule, a product of the pandemic and the need to constantly feed Disney+, was not of Alonso’s making. Marvel was far from the only studio tasked with delivering feature-level content for its newly launched streaming service. But it was Alonso’s job to get each of those titles through Marvel’s massive post-production process. By the summer of 2022, cracks are beginning to appear in the company’s seemingly impregnable armor.
Starting with Reddit, followed by a series of stories Posted online, visual effects artists began to complain loudly about Marvel’s difficult post-production schedules. Complaints ranged from relentless overtime to chronic staff shortages to an inability to avoid providing substandard work due to ever-changing deadlines. Some have described Alonso as a “kingmaker” who would blacklist artists who “in any way upset her”.
said a visual effects artist recently diverse That the biggest problem for them was Marvel’s inability to provide clear guidelines.
“The show I was working on was really challenging because it was an established character whose powers they were reimagining for the MCU,” the artist said on condition of anonymity. They said most complaints come down to a single refrain: “Marvel don’t think it through in advance.”
Another top VFX artist threw cold water at the idea that Alonso would assign individual artists: “The idea of having high-profile artists so terrifying, by some reports, just seems not good,” they told diverse. Above the line, three different Marvel actors agreed that Alonso was just a supporting force on set.
“She was the epitome of a pro and knows her stuff,” said a former Disney executive.
However, the drumbeat for Something Is Rotten at the State of Marvel Studios picked up steam with the release of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” a movie that finished shooting more than a year before it was due in theaters and remains on repeat. Criticism of the “generic” visual effects that looked like “CGI glop” and were “too flat and messy looking”. And most importantly: The film has grossed $463 million worldwide to date, the worst performance of the “Ant-Man” franchise and a figure that means it will struggle to break even in its theatrical window.
That’s the wrong course for the studio that Disney has relied on as an unwavering cash machine at the box office, whose films have grossed more than $28 billion at the global box office, especially as Iger shows he’s cutting costs across the company. Insiders say Marvel Studios’ five Disney+ series that were due to premiere in 2023 have been whittled down to three or four, with the others moved to 2024 and possibly beyond. This will take some immediate pressure off Marvel’s post-production pipeline. Alonso’s absence is not expected to affect the upcoming Marvel title, May’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” which roughly closed the photo.
Disney did not immediately announce Alonso’s replacement. Because of her wide range of duties, it may take more than one person to fill her spot. Executives gather.
Angelique Jackson and Jazz Tangkai contributed to this report.
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