In the latest in a series of management shuffles at Paramount Pictures, Gerry Rich is exiting his position as prexy of worldwide marketing.
Domestic marketing co-presidents Josh Greenstein and Megan Colligan will assume the post, reporting to Par vice chairman Rob Moore, to whom Rich reported.
Rich asked the studio to let him out of his contract, which had nearly two years remaining.
During his 4½-year tenure, Paramount’s marketing department became one of Hollywood’s most well-oiled machines, deftly opening a string of hits such as “Transformers” and three $200 million-plus grossers in a row this summer: “Iron Man,” “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and “Kung Fu Panda.” Paramount had the No. 1 domestic market share among the studios last year, with grosses totaling over $1.49 billion, and leads the studios so far in 2008, as well — a feat largely credited to Par’s marketing prowess.
Word of Rich’s departure surprised the industry because most studios don’t lose their marketing heads at the height of their achievements.
It also raised the prospect that Paramount may have damaged any remaining chance to land a distribution-only pact with DreamWorks, which is negotiating a deal with Reliance Big Entertainment to emancipate itself from the Melrose studio. Although Paramount and DreamWorks’ relationship had devolved over the past 18 months, DreamWorks remained extremely pleased with Par’s success in marketing its films.
Paramount also recently lost marketing exec and DreamWorks ambassador Michael Vollman to MGM.
In June, Par collapsed the marketing, distribution and physical production departments of specialty label Paramount Vantage into the larger studio. Move brought Colligan into the studio fold and created an internal power struggle.
“This is the rare case when a marketing head leaves in a climate of success; oftentimes, that’s not the case,” said Rich, who denied that there was any acrimony between him and the studio.
According to several accounts, however, Rich’s departure was precipitated when Moore and Par president John Lesher decided to appoint Colligan and Greenstein as co-presidents of domestic marketing, reporting to Rich, and then presented him with the move as a fait accompli after not having consulting him on it.
“How many heads of marketing can dance on a pin?” asked one marketing consultant.
As tension ratcheted up in the marketing department, Colligan, who has strong Oscar campaign experience but has never marketed a wide-release studio picture, attempted to get out of her contract, but Lesher refused to let her go. DreamWorks Animation czar Jeffrey Katzenberg fought for Rich to stay, but Moore and Lesher were willing to let him out of his contract.
Final deal details are still being worked out for Colligan and Greenstein.
Rich has a longstanding relationship with Greenstein — the two worked together at Dimension — and was responsible for bringing the creative advertising exec to Paramount in 2005.
Moore and Lesher say they are confident in their marketing team as they refashion the studio into a leaner, meaner version of its former self. Colligan’s specialty publicity experience, they suggest, will balance well with Greenstein’s flair for creative advertising materials.
“Gerry leaves us in great hands with a fantastic team that we expect to continue bringing the quality and imagination that you’ve seen for the past three years,” Moore said.
Rich will officially leave the Melrose lot at the end of the month.