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🔑 Key Takeaways

  1. David Mazel's experience highlights the importance of network, negotiation skills, and innovative ideas in the entertainment industry. Building valuable relationships and creating unique pitches can pave the way for success.
  2. Success in business often requires a combination of persistence, street smarts, and PR expertise. Plus, learning from someone like Ovitz can be instrumental to finding your own approach to the industry.
  3. Success is not just about having an impressive resume, but also about timing opportunities and having the energy to pursue them. Don't wait too long in secure jobs, take the risk and explore outside your comfort zone.
  4. Don't be afraid to try new things and pursue your passions. Develop creative interests while honing analytical skills and build relationships with creatives. Learn from experienced mentors and take risks to find success and fulfillment in both personal and professional pursuits.
  5. To succeed in Hollywood, one needs a combination of business acumen, creative management skills, and street smarts. Understanding value creation, managing relationships, and being aware of politics is crucial for success.
  6. Understanding industry motivators and staying informed on business fundamentals, historical context, and influential figures can lead to success. Joining a powerhouse group and building a professional network can navigate complex social dynamics.
  7. Understanding the customer base and identifying market gaps can lead to lucrative business decisions. Confidence gained from previous work experience can also empower creative pursuits in the future.
  8. Combine creativity with business decisions and pursue projects that are meaningful to you, like David Maisel's Fosse, a dance biographical story that pays homage to one of Broadway's best choreographers.
  9. Being a successful producer requires clear vision, micromanaging skills, and the ability to conceive an idea and make it happen with necessary resources. Marvel's success story shows that buying bankrupt companies can lead to significant profits.
  10. To create a profitable movie universe, a studio needs money, intellectual property, people to make films, and the ability to market and distribute. Sequels can be predictable in terms of revenue, making them a valuable business model.
  11. Opportunities can come from unexpected sources, stay passionate and persistent, and always be ready for new possibilities in order to maximize potential success.
  12. Strategic planning and strong negotiation skills can help raise financing and execute successful deals with minimized risk.
  13. Marvel Studios' strategic negotiating skills and revolutionary financing model led to the early success of the MCU, showcasing the value of perseverance and a strong team.
  14. Marvel's success was fueled by persistence and strategic planning, utilizing license and distribution deals. Persistence and hard work can pay off despite obstacles.
  15. Marvel's success was not built overnight, but through perseverance, analysis, relationship building, trust, and creative insights. With the right financial and strategic partnerships, even small properties can become major franchises.
  16. Limited options for financing led to the choice of Ironman, with a focus on the man behind the suit. Key decisions in development, such as casting Robert Downey Jr, were critical to the success of the movie.
  17. Careful budgeting, strategic casting and location decisions, efficient planning, and smart marketing contributed to the success of Iron Man. Its release date became a tradition for Marvel's franchise.
  18. Blending creative and business skills is crucial for success in any industry, and vision, effective management, incentive structuring, and promoting talented individuals contribute to the success of a project or company.
  19. Being a good leader means collaboratively drawing out creativity from others, appealing to a wider audience, avoiding ego, and staying open-minded. Communicate your vision clearly and take calculated risks while being truthful to avoid having your story rewritten.
  20. Being part of something you care about and telling its story can have an impactful influence on individuals. Despite challenges, believing in oneself and one's team can lead to success and joy that brings satisfaction and fulfillment.
  21. Success can often come unexpectedly, so it's important to celebrate and make quick decisions to continue the momentum. Remember to plan a budget, but also be prepared to exceed expectations.
  22. Identifying undervalued assets and strategically planning their growth potential can lead to successful investments and acquisitions.
  23. Negotiation and strategic planning were essential in Disney's acquisition of Marvel, including maintaining Marvel as a separate company and appointing Kevin Feige to run Marvel within Disney.
  24. Building a successful universe requires knowing who your real friends are and taking necessary steps. With high competition and changing trends, it might be time to explore new avenues beyond theatrical films.
  25. To create a successful new universe or mythology, balance legacy and novelty while using new technologies and storytelling methods to introduce visually captivating and relatable stories. Passion, pursuit of belief, timing, and cultural moments are crucial.
  26. Being mindful of our choices and actions can lead to unexpected and fulfilling outcomes, and embracing uncertainty and possibilities can open doors we never thought possible. Our actions matter, no matter how small they may seem.

📝 Podcast Summary

A Hollywood expert explains how deals are made in the entertainment industry.

David Mazel, founder of Mythos Studios and former founding chairman of Marvel Studios, shares his insights on how deals are made in Hollywood in a conversation with Tim Ferris. Mazel is known for pitching the idea of Marvel financing and producing its own movies in a connected cinematic universe. He went on to executive produce many hit movies such as Ironman, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, and sold Marvel to Disney for a cool 4 billion. Mazel is currently the founder of Mythos Studios, an IP entertainment studio. His insights provide valuable lessons for those looking to enter the entertainment industry.

The Tenacity, Street Smarts, and PR Savvy of Michael Ovitz

Success in business often requires a combination of tenacity, street smarts, and a strategic use of public relations. Michael Ovitz, a powerful Hollywood broker, had all these qualities, and used them to great effect to amass leverage and get his wishes executed. He was also known for his focus and work ethic, which were instrumental to his success. David Maisel, who worked with Ovitz, credits him with giving him a break in Hollywood and providing him with valuable experience and insights. Maisel believes that his time with Ovitz was key to his own success, and encouraged him to develop his own style and approach to the business.

Timing and Energy: The Key to Success

Success is a combination of timing and hard work. One needs to approach opportunities at the right time. It's not just about having an impressive resume, but also the energy and timing. David Maisel, in his interview with Tim Ferris, shares how he got a job with Michael Ovitz by being patient and timing his job offers. Maisel was influenced by the loss of his sister and used it as a personal turning point for his career. He left his consulting job to pursue creativity, and he believes that one should not wait for too long in secure jobs but should instead strive to explore options outside their comfort zone.

Take Risks and Find Beauty in Unexpected Places

Live to minimize regrets if possible, take risks and try new things. Even when facing challenges, there can be beautiful gifts in unexpected places. Branching out and developing creative interests while honing in on analytical and rational skills can lead to success. Working with creatives requires building relationships and understanding their perspective. Learning from experienced mentors and applying their best practices can lead to personal and professional growth. Pursuing interests and passions, even when they seem unlikely, can lead to fulfilling careers and unexpected opportunities.

Michael Ovitz's insights on succeeding in Hollywood.

To be successful in Hollywood, one needs to be good at business fundamentals, managing the creative process, and have street smarts. Business fundamentals are often ignored in Hollywood and understanding value creation is crucial. Michael Ovitz was forward-thinking and taught his clients financial literacy and shareholder value. Managing the creative process involves understanding stars and the people around them to be able to play both offense and defense. Michael gave David Maisel many opportunities to interact with megastars on a personal basis. Street smarts are important in Hollywood because it is a small town, and being aware of the politics is crucial to success. Michael Ovitz was ahead of his time in recognizing the need for technology and entertainment to work together.

Understanding what motivates people and figuring out how to deliver what they want while getting what you want in return is key to success in any industry, including entertainment. It is important to keep up with the latest news and gain historical context through biographies and articles. Business fundamentals are also crucial for capitalizing on asymmetric upside opportunities. Being close to influential figures in an industry and having open access to everything can provide invaluable insights. Joining a powerhouse group that deals with strategic planning and corporate development can also be critical to a successful career. Building a strong professional network and staying informed can help one navigate an industry with complex social dynamics.

The Missed Opportunity of Marvel Acquisition by Disney in 1996-97.

David Maisel had recommended Disney to buy Marvel back in 96-97 for no more than a hundred million dollars, but he was kicked out of the room because theme park rights were not available east of the Mississippi River. However, in 2010, Disney eventually bought Marvel for 4 billion dollars. Maisel's recommendation was based on the idea that Marvel was very strong with guys between age 12 and having kids, which was a huge gap in the lifetime cycle of a Disney customer. This reflects Disney's strength in thinking about their customers. Maisel's earlier experience in corporate development at Disney exposed him to acquisitions and recommendations, which gave him confidence to pursue creative projects later on in his career.

David Maisel's Passion for Creative Projects in Theater Production

David Maisel's passion for projects plays a significant role in his success. He believes that theater and live productions are an animal of their own, and he enjoys telling stories that are meaningful and relevant to him. He uses creativity in business decisions and is not afraid to combine the two. He became involved in theater production and believes that a dance musical is inexpensive and was inspired to produce Fosse, a dance biographical story about Bob Fosse, one of the best choreographers ever on Broadway and a film director. His life was tragic but interesting, and his sensuality in dance inspired David Maisel to think that it would be a cool Broadway project.

The Key Skills of a Successful Producer

Having a clear vision and the ability to make it happen through micromanaging creative, business, political, and financing decisions are key skills of a successful producer. The example of producing 'Fosse' and 'Marvel Cinematic Universe' are proof of that. Despite the lack of accountability in the entertainment industry and varying definitions of producer, the role involves conceiving of an idea and making it work with necessary resources, from bringing in huge creative talent to dealing with ex-lovers, wives, and daughters of the author. Marvel's success story reveals how buying bankrupt companies and turning them around can lead to significant profits as in the case of having 10% gross ticket sales in the Spider-Man musical.

Creating a Profitable Universe: David Maisel's Journey to Marvel Studios

David Maisel, former CEO of Marvel Studios, talks about his career journey and how he chose to create his own studio rather than climbing the hierarchy of an existing one. He explains that a studio should have the money, intellectual property, people to make films, and the ability to market and distribute them. Maisel's big idea was to create a universe where every film after the first one was a sequel or quasi-sequel, allowing characters to appear in multiple movies. This led him to Marvel and their vast universe of characters. He believed this model could manage profit margins since sequels were predictable in terms of revenue, unlike the first movie business.

Small Connections Lead to Big Opportunities in Hollywood

Small connections and introductions can lead to big opportunities in Hollywood. David Maisel got introduced to Avi Rod and Ike Pro Utter through his lawyer who also represented Avi. Even though he didn't know anyone at Marvel, he got a job there because of his passion and persistence. Ike didn't immediately agree to do their own films, but he gave Maisel a chance to fight for it internally and even gave him a lot of stock options. Maisel also had an opportunity to produce Michael Jackson's life story, but he didn't take it seriously. Opportunities are everywhere, so always be ready and open to new possibilities.

David Maisel's Strategic Move for Marvel Studios Financing

David Maisel was appointed as President of Marvel Studios where he raised a half a billion dollars in 2004 without any significant risk. He convinced the board of directors to give him six months to raise the financing and put his MBA hat on to structure the deal. They were able to get financing from Merle Lynch who helped structure it. They called it Marvel Studios although it wasn't a studio. Maisel argued for the studio in the board meetings and was basically told to be quiet unless Marvel had no risk. They decided to own their own studio, got the full financial upside and decided on green light when the movies got made.

Marvel's Revolutionary Financing Model for Success.

Marvel Studios raised $500 million in pure debt with film rights as collateral, but only in the worst-case scenario would those 10 Marvel characters be collected. They also owned all the rights to other characters besides film, and even in the case of a film loss, they still made a considerable profit. Their financing model was revolutionary, and it is interesting to see how the company came together. Marvel Studios was built on the vision and tenacity of its team, and their success was achieved through strategic negotiating skills. Marvel fans should be grateful for the team's hard work and the correct financing that led to the early success of the MCU. Marvel's financing was a relay race, and they emerged as winners.

The Success Story of Marvel Studios: Perseverance and Planning.

The success of Marvel Studios was based on several factors including successful license deals and distribution deals. The original creators passed the baton to different leaders who kept the company afloat. Before Kevin Feige's time, David Maisel had to use the numbers of X-Men and Spider-Man to show potential success to the board internally and bank, which was important to seal the deal. Merrill Lynch played a crucial role in the success of the distribution deal, and incentives for everyone made it happen. While many distribution companies passed, only Paramount said yes. Marvel wasn't the Marvel it is today, but the company pushed forward despite many obstacles. Marvel's story is an excellent example of how perseverance and patience can lead to success.

The Rise of Marvel: How Perseverance and Creative Insights Changed the Game

Even though Marvel wasn't a big thing 15 years ago, the studios were not interested in distributing their movies, but Disney and Paramount saw potential in their properties. Paramount agreed to distribute Ironman after realizing that they could break even even if the movie didn't do well. In addition to the financial trade, creative and previous success insights played a part in convincing them. Having the sexy halo effect of producers on successful movies like X-Men and Spider-Man helped in gaining the trust of bankers and distribution partners to invest. Thus, this shows how perseverance, analysis, relationship, trust, and creative insights played a vital role in transforming Marvel into the huge franchise we know today.

How Ironman was chosen as the superhero for the movie

The reason Ironman was chosen over other comic book characters was due to limited options available when they closed the financing. The team had listed 10 options, but they weren't defined in the deal, which made it a weird category of property. Eventually, they zeroed in on Ironman because they were excited about the man inside the suit, Tony Stark. The breakthrough for the team was understanding that if Tony Stark isn't visible, the movie won't be as good. Key decisions were made in the development phase, including promoting Kevin Faggy to president of production and identifying John Favreau as the director and Robert Downey Jr as the actor for Ironman.

The Smart Decisions Behind the Success of Iron Man

The success of Iron Man was a result of careful budgeting and smart decision-making, from choosing a lead actor who was not an obvious choice to filming in a location without tax incentives. The lack of unnecessary studio executives allowed for close collaboration and efficient planning, ultimately leading to a smooth production process. Marketing and distribution were also significant challenges, but careful consideration of release dates and partnerships with major studios ultimately led to the film's success. Marvel's choice to release the film on May 2, an early date in the summer movie season, was a smart move that has since become a tradition for the franchise.

David Maisel's Success Formula: Creative Vision, Financial Structuring, and Effective Management in Marvel

David Maisel's success with Marvel Studios was due to his ability to blend creative vision with financial structuring and effective management. He was able to prove his concept of producing successful movies with low budgets and creatively be in charge of a project. Maisel also understood how to structure incentives and work effectively with both creatives and executives. He had the vision to create a modern mythology and make Marvel Studios successful with characters that were previously seen as low-tier. Lastly, Maisel was proud of promoting Kevin Feige and believing in his abilities to run the company. Maisel's success is proof that blending creative and business skills is crucial in film and other industries.

The Art of Managing Creativity and Leadership

Managing creativity is about knowing when to exert your own creativity and when to draw out creativity from others. It's important to appeal not only to fans but also to a wider audience, and to tell a classic story that can resonate with everyone. Being a good leader is not just about giving orders, but also about explaining your vision and recommendations to your team and collaborating with them to achieve the best outcome. Being intentional and avoiding the trap of ego can lead to greater success and satisfaction. Keeping an open mind to improvisation and taking calculated risks can result in exceptional outcomes. Lastly, truth can be fungible, and staying quiet may result in confusion or even having your story rewritten.

Founding Marvel Studios and its Impact on People's Lives

It's important to be part of the narrative if you care about something. David Maisel realized this while telling his story of founding Marvel Studios to doctors and nurses during his mother's illness. He also realized the impact Marvel had on people's lives and the joy it brought them. Despite the lack of confidence in Wall Street, David Maisel and his team were immersed in making Ironman and felt good about it. The film's success was a major turning point for Marvel Studios, and it made David Maisel think about where the company could go. The eventual sale to Disney was a proud moment for him, and he believes there's enough credit for all involved. Marvel has brought joy to everyone, even to a security guy at the airport who helped David through security because he had a Marvel bag.

Capitalizing on Unexpected Success: Lessons from Ironman Movie

The success of Ironman movie changed the game for Marvel and its executives. David Maisel and his team planned the budget of the movie to break-even, but the success of the movie exceeded their expectations. The adrenaline rush was huge and they were busy with interviews, meetings, and quotes. Maisel organized a celebration dinner with John, Robert, and Kevin. He green-lit Ironman 2 with no script by asking everyone around the table to commit to making it happen. Maisel's regular meetings with Bob Iger also involved business proposals. The lesson learned is that success often comes unexpectedly and it's important to celebrate and make quick decisions to capitalize on the momentum.

How David Maisel's strategic thinking led to the acquisition of Marvel by Disney.

David Maisel realized that Disney stock was undervalued during the economic collapse and would at least double when the economy recovered, while the movie industry was plateaued. He then called Bob to organize a secret meeting in his office for early June. In the meeting, they discussed how to connect all the Marvel characters and what the future movies were going to be. They also talked about the potential of a TV deal at Disney, which eventually led to the acquisition of Marvel by Disney. David knew that there was a window to sell the company and that six months later they would be way less attractive if they were committed to somebody else in TV and film. This led to a great trade for their shareholders, and Marvel became one of the most successful franchises in the entertainment industry.

The Strategic Acquisition of Marvel by Disney

The acquisition of Marvel by Disney was not an easy process. David Maisel received an opportunity to pitch his idea of selling Marvel to a buyer. Although it took a while to convince Ike Perlmutter, the CEO of Marvel, he was open-minded and willing to hear David's case. The turning point dinner with Bob and Ike and Steve Jobs' call about Pixar helped to seal the deal. Besides negotiating the percentage in Disney stock, it was important to keep Marvel as a separate company within Disney, so the culture didn't get messed up. Kevin Feige was suggested as the ideal person to run Marvel within Disney. The process involved a lot of negotiation and strategic planning.

Selling Marvel to Disney and the Challenges of Building a Universe

Selling Marvel to Disney allowed the shareholders and founders to move on to new ventures and parts of life. The deal went through well and the studio got $4 billion, which was a significant increase compared to its initial price when David joined. Marvel Studios was a startup within the parent company, and they had to manage it, raise their own money, and do their deals. Building a universe of characters requires necessary steps, and one of the common mistakes people make is not knowing who their real friends are. Launching a new universe is tough now as the bar is high and competing against Marvel. But with the changing world, it might start with something else other than theatrical film.

Creating a Captivating Universe in a Highly Competitive Market

Creating a new universe or major mythology that stands out in a highly competitive market like Marvel's requires a good balance of legacy and novelty. It should be visually captivating, primal, and introduced in new ways using new technologies and storytelling methods. Meaningful stories that people can relate to and find a personal connection with can help build a legacy, and creating cultural moments like James Cameron did with Avatar can help create a buzz around the franchise. The balance between legacy and novelty is key; too much of either can reduce the thrill of discovery or make it too geeky. Passion, pursuit of what you believe in, and good timing also play a major role.

The Butterfly Effect: How Our Small Actions Can Create Big Outcomes

Our actions, no matter how small, can have a butterfly effect that creates wonder and awe about what life can be. We can make a positive impact on others, even if we don't realize it at the time. David Maisel explains that even the Marvel Cinematic Universe was created because one company owned the necessary rights over the characters. Similarly, our decisions and actions can lead to unexpected and fulfilling outcomes. We should be mindful of our choices and actions as they can lead to bigger things than we ever could have imagined. Life is unpredictable, and we should embrace the uncertainty and be open to the possibilities that arise from chance events.