Marvel Studios has promoted three executives to key positions asthe company moves into self-financed production following last year's financingdeal with Merrill Lynch.

Kevin Feige has been promoted to president of production and willcollaborate with company chairman and chief executive officer Avi Aradoverseeing all film and television productions. He previously served asexecutive producer on such titles as Spider-Man 2 and Fantastic Four, and is working in the same capacity on Spider-Man3 and X-Men 3.

Ari Arad becomes executive vice president of production and isserving as co-producer on Ghost Rider. He also co-produced The Punisher.

Craig Kyle has been promoted to vice president of creativedevelopment, animation, and will be instrumental in developing Marvel'scharacters in all animated formats. He oversaw the development of the company'sfirst ever direct-to-DVD feature, The Ultimate Avengers, which will be released next month.

Praising all three and highlighting their "passion, commitment,drive, and creativity" as key elements in Marvel's success, Arad said: "As welike to say here, with great power comes great responsibility, and with greatresponsibility comes great job titles."

The executive shuffle reflects a vastly expanded work schedulethat Marvel now faces after securing a $525m debt facility that grants Arad thecreative control and enhanced profit potential he has sought for some time.

Marvel will develop and produce up to 10 features based onproperties like Captain America, Nick Fury and Black Panther, which Paramount will distribute and market worldwideexcluding Japan, Germany, Australia/New Zealand, Spain and France.

Marvel will receive a gross participation of all revenues from thefund as the producer of each film and will retain all film-relatedmerchandising revenues. The company will also receive all profits, includingall platform revenue streams after film costs, distribution fees, marketing,and interest.

Crucially Marvel retains all library rights, which has not beenthe case under existing franchise deals with the likes of Sony on Spider-Manand Fox on X-Men, an arrangement that has clearly rankledArad in the past.

"We like our studio partners, but by doing it ourselves we retainmost of the profits, the rights and the library, so there are many benefits,"Arad said. He added that the lack of studio involvement in the development andproduction process on the upcoming slate would create greater efficiency. "Welike to work in a small group," he said. "With the new deal we make the movieand turn it over to the studio who will act as our distributor and marketer."

The new arrangement also means Marvel will be able to avoid themore galling consequences of studio relationships. Sony recently announced itwas putting back the release of Ghost Rider from July 2006 to February 2007, andMarvel recently took back rights to Iron Man after two years of development hell atNew Line. "We understand how to treat our characters and we have everyconfidence in them. And if any of the studios want to give us back the rightsto any of our characters we'll gladly take them."