Following the major revamp of its movie production arm Tuesday (Daily Variety , Oct. 21), New Line Cinema’s president of marketing Sandra Ruch has resigned her position, effective in January.
Although Ruch, who has held her post at New Line for 3 1/2 years, did not announce her specific plans for the future, she did say in a prepared statement, “Other ventures in marketing and production have been brought to my attention and I am looking forward to pursuing them in the new year.”
Several industry insiders speculated that Ruch was on her way to a similar position at newly formed Gramercy Pictures, although that scenario was flatly denied by company president Russell Schwartz. Ruch did not return phone calls.
While the tone of New Line’s press release announcing Ruch’s departure makes the parting sound amicable, numerous industry sources insisted that Ruch has not been happy at New Line for some time. This coincides with last year’s unannounced, internal reorganization by New Line whereby Ruch was forced to report to the company’s distribution president Mitch Goldman.
“I’m sure she wasn’t thrilled with the reorganization,” a New Line exec said yesterday. “Even though Mitch didn’t have a marketing title, he took over and they clashed. They didn’t get along.”
A marketing chief at a rival studio agreed with that assessment: “There was a personality conflict between Sandra and Mitch. It was very combustible. When someone from distribution is put in charge of marketing, it changes things.”
While the alleged personality conflict between Ruch and Goldman was given as one of the reasons for Ruch’s departure, others speculate that her background in corporate PR did not fit with the company’s aggressive production and marketing plans for the future.
Prior to joining New Line, Ruch worked as a public relations exec at Mobil Oil and was a VP of public relations and marketing for the House of Seagram.
“Vendors who were designing marketing campaigns for the company would want to do far-out things and she, many times, would insist on doing something calm and sedate,” said a source.
“A lot of times this didn’t sit well with the filmmakers, either.”
In addition, other sources said that Ruch was forced to take the heat for some of the company’s box office disappointments, such as David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,” and “Poison Ivy.”
As for a possible successor for Ruch, New Line executives, including Goldman, were tight-lipped.
One possibility is that Fine Line president Ira Deutchman will be brought over to run marketing, while continuing to oversee Fine Line. But Goldman denied that.
Other sources speculate that Goldman is looking for a candidate to perform the same duties as Ruch, but not in the position of president. While Ruch was not officially reporting to Goldman, her successor would.
During her tenure, Ruch oversaw the marketing of films including “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,””Glengarry Glen Ross” and “Drop Dead Fred.”Ruch will continue to work on several upcoming releases.