Lionsgate is the latest studio to shake up its marketing operations, saying today it is combining operations under Chief Marketing Officer Tim Palen that will give him oversight of film marketing for Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment product as well as its Pantelion Films joint venture with Televisa and urban Codeblack Films label. With the consolidation, Summit’s president of worldwide marketing Nancy Kirkpatrick is resigning at month’s end (although she doesn’t appear to be in her office now). As the company streamlines its operations — it currently releases about 12 to 15 movies a year now — the question is if others might follow Kirkpatrick out the door.
Kirkpatrick, who is well-regarded, ends her tenure after shepherding the marketing efforts for all five Twilight Saga films as well as the recent launch of the first pic in the Divergent franchise, which bowed last month with a $56.4 million opening weekend and has grossed $175M-plus to date worldwide. Draft Day was the last picture to open and it didn’t do well, grossing only $9.7M this past weekend, but the last three Kevin Costner film openings have been soft.
“Nancy has done a great job and has been an important part of this company,” said Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chair Rob Friedman, “And Tim has done an amazing job and has great relationships with both staffs.” One source noted that the word ‘integration’ has been talked about for awhile in the hallways of Lionsgate and Summit.
In fact, one of the biggest question marks since Lionsgate merged with Summit in 2012 was what would happen to their two veteran marketing heads. Eventually, Lionsgate’s Palen was given a new long-term deal to remain Chief Marketing Officer and it was decided Summit’s Kirkpatrick would continue in her role separately since the two entities had their own big slates to shepherd. As part of that structure, Palen was tasked with overseeing all of Lionsgate Films’ North American theatrical marketing campaigns and strategy, media, creative advertising and digital media initiatives as well as continuing to supervise the company’s corporate branding activities — he oversaw the marketing campaign for Lionsgate’s signature franchise The Hunger Games while Kilpatrick guided Twilight pics. As part of today’s moves, Palen now has expanded responsibilities for merchandising, theme park attractions and new business opportunities generated by the company’s franchises. He joined Lionsgate in 2002 as VP Theatrical Marketing.