Joseph N. Cohen has been elevated to the newly created post of president and chief operating officer of Largo Entertainment, the company he helped chairman Lawrence Gordon set up as a joint venture with Japan’s JVC/Victor Co. 3 1/2 years ago.
Cohen, who has functioned as Gordon’s right arm since joining the firm in September 1989 as executive VP and chief financial officer, will continue to oversee all business and financial activities, including supervision and implementation of its distribution deals. He retains his CFO title as well.
All creative areas, including production and marketing, will continue to report directly to Gordon.
Cohen said yesterday, “My agreeing to reup and accept this position is also a signal that Largo is going to be adopting a higher profile.
“Largo is going to be flexing its muscles. We’ve gone through the start-up phase and it’s taken that time to really get our development slate going. We have 40 to 50 projects in active development and now are able financially and creatively to produce and finance five to six big pictures a year.”
Cohen was instrumental in organizing JVC’s recently increased $ 50 million equity investment from JVC and three-year revolving $ 75 million credit line from a banking syndicate composed of international banks under the auspices of Chemical Bank (Daily Variety, Oct. 1, 1992).
The executive noted that Largo “really intends to increase our production slate and that may require some additional infusions. … That’s what I love to do.”
Cohen said Largo also plans to increase its activities in the area of movie acquisitions, the first of which was its picking up foreign rights to Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” which competes at the Berlin Film Festival next month and will roll out in Europe in late February or early March.
Largo currently has “Used People” in domestic theaters and has “Judgment Night,” with Emilio Estevez, in post-production for release this summer. As previously reported, Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger are reteaming on Largo’s remake of the 1972 Sam Peckinpah action thriller “The Getaway,” which starts in March for a fall release.
In announcing Cohen’s promotion, Gordon said, “Joe has been instrumental in developing new business strategies, which have characterized Largo’s approach to the kinds of deals and distribution arrangements which the company has implemented.”
Cohen was responsible for structuring Largo’s non-exclusive domestic and foreign distribution deals with 20th Century Fox and Universal and the company’s output arrangement with Home Box Office for domestic pay-TV and pay-per-view.
Previously, Cohen was a founding partner and executive at the investment banking firm InterMedia, which represented JVC/Victor in the creation of Largo.
Cohen was also the founder of Canada’s largest finance company, Canadian Entertainment Investors, and before that Albion Films Ltd. in the United Kingdom , which financed British films in the early 1980s such as “Never Say Never Again” and “Educating Rita.”
A graduate of both Yale and Oxford, Cohen has consulted for various companies around the world on motion picture and television financing ventures. In addition to arranging specific project financings, he’s been a consultant on mergers and acquisitions, capital restructuring, bond and equity issues, joint ventures and limited partnership offerings.