Marvel taps Rubenstein to top Web

Comicbook giant names ex-Sony whiz exec VP

Marvel Entertainment has tapped Sony Pictures’ former digital guru Ira Rubenstein to head up the comicbook giant’s online and mobile efforts.

Company’s been aggressively eyeing the Internet and cell phones as ways to grow Marvel’s superhero business.

Rubenstein, long considered a Hollywood innovator in the online space, will head up that expansion as executive VP of Marvel’s newly formed global digital media group.

He will be based in New York and reports to John Turitzin, exec VP, office of the chief executive.

Marvel recently digitized part of its vast library of books to launch Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, with readers paying monthly subscriptions of $10, or $5 if they sign up for a full year. It launched with more than 2,500 back issues, including the first appearances of Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Incredible Hulk.

Rubenstein will shepherd the growth of that venture, as well as Marvel.com and MarvelKids.com, and the creation of original animated content, strategic partnerships and mobile and casual games.

“What’s really exciting is the sheer number of characters they have,” Rubenstein said. “These are iconic characters.”

His job, Rubenstein said, will be to “take that universe in the digital space, expanding it for the next generation.”

The challenge, he said, “as with all entertainment companies, is you build in digital business without impacting your traditional business.”

Internet piracy, he noted, is as much a concern in the comicbook world as it is for film, TV and music.

Exec recently spent 12 years at Sony, most recently as exec VP of Sony Pictures Digital, where he extended Sony Pictures’ properties, including the “Spider-Man” franchise, “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” into the digital space through SonyPictures.com, mobile and casual games and strategic partnerships.

He also oversaw the development of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment’s on-demand movie service Movielink.

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