Exec to head worldwide marketing for studio

Warner Bros. moved swiftly to tap a new marketing czar in the wake of Dawn Taubin’s exit last week.

Sue Kroll, formerly international marketing maven for the studio, will now oversee marketing on a global basis. As prexy of worldwide marketing, a newly created position, she will work closely with Jeff Robinov, who gained oversight of marketing and distribution when he was upped to prexy of the Warner Bros. Pictures Group in November.

That promotion went into effect Jan. 1, and Robinov quickly elevated longtime lieutenant Kevin McCormick to production prexy before shaking up the marketing ranks.

The timing of the moves raised some eyebrows in the industry — studio has four pics in the box office top 10 and a series of major releases on the way — but Warner brass maintain there was no time to wait.

Taubin exited the studio after nearly 20 years rather than stay in a senior-level nontheatrical marketing post.

“We have a lot of movies coming out and they need to be marketed,” said Alan Horn, Warner prexy-chief operating officer. “We couldn’t keep this vacant.”

He said Kroll’s experience navigating various international markets amid compressing release windows makes her well qualified to oversee worldwide marketing.

Decision to tap an international exec to head marketing underscores how important that segment has become to the studio, which has grossed more than $1 billion overseas for seven consecutive years. Studio said it generated $2.24 billion in international grosses last year, setting an industry record. Studio’s domestic B.O. tally was $1.42 billion.

One of Kroll’s mandates will be to streamline marketing and improve efficiency between international and domestic activities.

“As the exhibition world increasingly becomes one market due to shifting windows, it makes a lot of sense for us to have the domestic and international marketing teams under one executive,” Robinov said.

He said he decided to give Kroll the post based on many conversations he had with her about projects he shepherded through the production process.

Kroll acknowledged that the promotion was a big step up for her. The international markets are very diverse, she noted, but “the fact is all eyes are on the domestic market.”

The studio maintains that it hasn’t yet determined who will fill the open domestic and international posts — or how the actual structure will look when the dust settles. “I can’t even say there are two openings,” Robinov said.

As head of international marketing, Kroll has shepherded campaigns for the “Harry Potter” franchise, “I Am Legend,” “Beowulf” and “Sweeney Todd.” Over the past six years, 32 pics have grossed more than $100 million internationally. “Happy Feet,” “The Departed” and “Blood Diamond” were among the pics crossing that mark overseas.

Prior to heading the studio’s international marketing department, Kroll served as senior VP of international marketing. She joined the studio in 1994 to head programming and operations for Warner Bros. Intl. Channels. Previously, she served marketing stints at Turner Network Television and earlier worked in Viacom cable divisions.

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