It’s tempting to view Wednesday’s announcement that Disney will film its four Marvel series projects for Netflix in Gotham as a bit of pre-campaign campaigning on the part of Mouse House chief Bob Iger.
After all, there’s been plenty of media speculation that Iger will seek public office after his tenure as Disney CEO ends in 2016. All the talk at Wednesday’s news conference with Iger and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo about job creation and Disney’s economic impact in New York sure sounded like golden material for someone seeking future votes in the Empire state.
In fact, sources close to the situation say Iger at present has no intention of running for office after he steps down from Disney. Speculation that he would run for mayor of New York City or governor of the state has been fueled by others who have sought to draft him as a candidate, a source close to Iger stresses. The deal to bring the Marvel series to New York was all about the value of the production incentives the state brought to the table, and the fact that the shows are set in Gotham.
There’s also been chatter about Iger one day running for governor of California — but those rumors should now firmly put to rest with the Marvel-NYC deal coming at a time when the Golden State is hemorrhaging production jobs.
In fact, the impetus behind Wednesday’s news conference was officials at New York’s state film commission office, who wanted to announce the unusually large production score with some fanfare.
Cuomo, who is running for re-election this year (without much in the way of competition, so far), also had an interest in hyping the Disney commitment, as he has made boosting the state’s film and TV production activity a priority for his administration.
The Marvel pact with Netflix encompasses nearly 60 hours of production, spread across four series and a miniseries. That makes it a much more bankable deal in terms of revenue impact for the state than the typical TV production that starts with a pilot, or 10-13 episodes on the high end.
The negotiations between Disney and state film officials were complex because of the scope of the deal. At one point the plan had been to unveil the deal last week, without Iger in attendance. New York’s state and city film commission officials often announce deals for productions that might’ve otherwise gone to Los Angeles or other locales with the help of talent associated with the project, but the Marvel series have yet to be cast.
As the talks for Disney to secure as much as $4 million in production incentives dragged on, it became clear that Iger would be in Gotham this week. Disney execs and Empire state officials knew they’d make a bigger splash if the pact was announced by the governor and the CEO of the world’s largest media company.
One person who seemed conspicuously absent from the spotlight Wednesday was newly elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who did not attend the news conference. De Blasio has yet to announce a successor for Katherine Oliver, who ran the city’s office of media and entertainment under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and was a tireless cheerleader for NYC’s production community.