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Fox Int’l Beefs Up Asian Unit

Reflecting the dynamic growth in Asia and the doubling of 20th Century Fox’s film output, the studio is beefing up its Far East presence.

Fox Intl. president Jim Gianopulos has upped Paul Hanneman, general manager of Fox Japan, to VP, Far East; he will still be based in Tokyo. Hanneman will oversee the entire region, from Australia to Japan and including India and Pakistan.

Also, Gianopulos has tapped foreign sales vet Michael Werner as Far East supervisor (excluding Japan and Korea), based in Hong Kong.

Werner is winding down his involvement in his L.A.-based Trans Pacific Media Consultancy, which reps Asian producers and distribs, but that company will continue under the aegis of its other principals.

Those appointments complete the jigsaw of Fox’s strategic realignments, which saw Julian Levin elevated from senior VP to exec VP, sales and distribution, at Fox Intl.

Levin is taking on added responsibilities including worldwide operations, sales management and information systems development. He’ll work closely with the marketing department in planning all Fox releases overseas and will continue to supervise the Far East, Australia and Latin America.

In Singapore for the CineAsia movie convention, Gianopulos told Variety, “As the studio increases production from 13 or 14 films a year to 25, we need more support (in the foreign field). We need more coordination, more tailored campaigns and more individual release strategies.”

The Mandarin-speaking Werner will be Fox’s point man for entering China and will develop cross-promotional opportunities with sister satcaster Star TV, where he’ll hang his shingle.

“There is no specific impediment” to Fox launching direct distribution (of Fox films) in China, said Gianopulos, “other than the current tensions (between China and the U.S.) and our better understanding Warner Bros.’ experiences with ‘The Fugitive,'” the first U.S. pic released in China under a revenue-sharing deal with China Film Import & Export.

Given Star’s increasing involvement in co-producing local programming in territories such as Hong Kong, the Philippines and India, Gianopulos wants to explore the possibilities of Fox producing Chinese-language films.

He said this product could be distributed by Fox itself or via partners or sub-distribs in some territories.

Werner says he’ll be looking to enhance Fox’s marketing in the region, including more regional promotions and “putting more showmanship” into the business.

Said Levin: “I want to provide our field offices with the same tools and flexibility that they would have if they were based in L.A.”

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