The heads of two of the most successful film studios in the world both agree: at a certain point in the process, every movie they make feels like the “worst movie ever made.”
Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, made the comment at the Vanity Fair Summit in San Francisco on Wednesday. He was recounting something John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Pixar Animation Studios, once said to him.
“John said something to me many years ago which I thought was a revelation. He said, ‘At a certain point on every Pixar movie, it’s the worst movie that’s ever been made.’ And I was like, ‘Really? Ours is the worst movie ever made at a certain point!’ I just thought it sprung out of Pixar fully formed, which it absolutely does not at Marvel, and we just grind. And I think it’s not dissimilar. You just kind of don’t give up until they pull it from your hands and put it in theaters.”
It was a surprising sentiment to hear from Marvel or from Pixar, both of which are now owned by Disney. Pixar movies have grossed an average $633 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo, and Marvel movies have grossed an average $497 million.
The panel, made up of Feige, Lasseter, and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, was a stark visual reminder of Disney’s mega-success in M&A over the past decade. It bought Pixar in 2006 for $7.4 billion; it bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009 for $4 billion; and it bought Lucasfilm (and with it, the “Star Wars” universe) in 2012 for $4 billion. The three acquisitions have been extremely successful.
Feige expanded on what changed after Disney bought Marvel Studios: “We got a home, is what we got when we came to Disney. We got the best marketers in the business, the best distribution in the business.”
Disney CEO Bob Iger oversaw all of these deals, but Iger will step down from the post in 2018. At the very end of the panel, Iger was asked who the next CEO might be.
“The most important quality that the next CEO of the Walt Disney Company must have is the ability to appreciate the value of great creators and the creative process,” he said. “Almost everything we do emanates from a creative process and a creator. Where that person comes from, I can’t tell you right now, but that person must embody that appreciation and sense of respect that comes with what these people do.”
Daniel Roberts is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering sports business and technology. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.