Helfant Gains Powers as Marvel Prez

It didn’t take exposure to radioactive materials to make Michael Helfant one of the most powerful men at Marvel Ent. The industry veteran has been appointed president and chief operating officer of the company’s Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Marvel Studios division. In the role, he will oversee entertainment development and production activities as the company continues to aggressively exploit its library of more than 5,000 comic-book characters with live-action and animated film, television and home entertainment projects.

Marvel, home to such enduring properties as Spider-Man, X-Men and The Incredible Hulk, recently completed a $525 million non-recourse debt financing for the production of up to ten films based on its franchises. Marvel Studios chairman and CEO Avi Arad is overseeing script development on a number of these projects and the first film is slated for release in 2008. In addition, the company is working with distributor Lions Gate to produce direct-to-DVD animated features films, the first of which is expected at retail in 2006.

Helfant most recently served as COO of independent film production company Beacon Pictures, whose feature film releases include the Kevin Costner Western Open Range, the Kate Hudson comedy Raising Helen and the John Travolta firefighting drama Ladder 49. Prior to joining Beacon, Helfant was senior exec VP of former Miramax arm Dimension Films from 1999 to 2002.