Wednesday saw a move that really caught Wall Street off guard, Avi Arad, called by some the real superhero of Marvel Entertainment, resigned as chairman and CEO of the company's film studio and chief creative officer of the parent company. He will now head his own company, Avi Arad Productions, which will continue to produce films featuring Marvel's superhero characters, including next year's Spider-Man 3. The move comes just days after X-Men: The Last Stand set a Memorial Day record at the box office and on the same day that Arad sold 3.15 million shares in Marvel Entertainment, worth $60 million. Some analysts speculated that Arad was leaving the company because he disagreed with its decision to fund several upcoming films on its own through a $525-million debt facility set up by Merrill Lynch. "This is not a ringing endorsement of company strategy," Banc of America analyst Michael Savner told Daily Variety. "He may understand something about the company the street doesn't," said Evan S. Wilson of Pacific Crest Securities in an interview with the New York Post. Marvel's shares tumbled by more than 5 percent on the news Wednesday.
X-Men producer Lauren Shuler Donner confirmed to USA Today that Wolverine will likely head into production next year, at the same time 20th Century Fox production president Hutch Parker says "We've also talked about doing something on the kids in the school, focusing on their lives, and less of a global adventure for the team".
Meanwhile the paper also reports that the studio is also exploring a movie with Three Kings director David O. Russell based on the character of Emma Frost, a sexy mutant telepath known as The White Queen and a member of the Hellfire Club. She is an X-Men comics regular but was not featured in the movies. Now the speculation can begin on who will play the femme fatale.