Studio locks up top positions through 2011

Jeff Blake has inked a long-term contract with Sony Pictures that keeps him in his post as chairman of worldwide marketing and distribution for the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group through 2012.

Move means the studio has locked up its top positions through at least 2011.

In October, Sony Pictures reupped chairman-CEO Michael Lynton’s contract for five years. And last month, Screen Gems prexy Clint Culpepper inked a deal that keeps him atop the studio’s genre shingle through 2012. Co-chair Amy Pascal’s contract runs through 2011.

Blake, who came up through the studio’s distribution ranks, will also continue to serve as vice chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment — a post he has held since 2002.

Blake’s current contract was not set to expire until the end of the year, but Lynton and Pascal moved preemptively to retain him.

Lynton said Blake has “an unparalleled global marketing and distribution network, which is recognized as the best in the business.”

“When it comes to knowing how films will play in different corners of the world,” Lynton added, “Jeff’s opinion and counsel matters — not only to us but to the filmmakers and talent, who respect and rely on his guidance.”

In recent years, Sony films like “The Da Vinci Code,” “Spider-Man” and “Casino Royale” have performed extraordinarily well overseas. In the case of “Da Vinci Code,” more than 70% of the film’s total box office haul of $758 million came from foreign ticket sales.

“The numbers speak loudly in telling the story of his impact on our studio,” Pascal said. Since being named chairman of worldwide marketing and distribution for the Col TriStar Motion Picture Group in 2005, Blake has spearheaded the global marketing and distribution of all Columbia Pictures, TriStar and Screen Gems films. He was previously prexy of worldwide distribution for Col and has headed the studio’s film distribution arm since 1992.

Blake became president of Sony Pictures Releasing in August 1994. Before that, he was prexy of domestic distribution for Columbia Pictures, a title he had held since joining SPE. He previously worked at Paramount Pictures, where he served as exec VP and general sales manager of domestic distribution from 1987-92.

Doug Belgrad and Matt Tolmach have been running production at the studio since 2003.

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