From the Chinese market to popcorn, these folks made a difference
If anyone personifies the can-do pioneering spirit, it would be Dick Cook, who began his 38-year career with the Walt Disney Co. in 1970 as a ride operator (“an invaluable experience as it puts you in direct contact with your guests and audience”), and worked his way up to chairman. Under his leadership, Disney released 60 films that grossed more than $100 million each domestically and became a pioneer and industry leader in digital cinema, which he terms “the future of our business — and the future is now.” Technology is driving “so many areas in the movie industry,” he adds, “and it will continue to improve, evolve and saturate global markets.” Looking ahead, Cook says as satellite delivery becomes a reality — “and it’s just around the corner,” it will be “a giant step forward in getting our movies to theaters in a more efficient, smarter, more economical way.
In an era when Hollywood is increasingly focused on international markets, Warner Bros.’ Richard Fox is a key player, overseeing local production outside the States, “as well as the country managers we have in the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan and India,” he says. “They report through me to Barry Meyer and Alan Horn. We’ve been extremely busy worldwide, and have been involved with over 250 films.” He is that Hollywood rarity — a one-company man. “I started at Warners in October 1975, and I’ve been here ever since,” says Fox who was promoted to his current position of exec VP international in 1992. Looking ahead, Fox is excited about burgeoning markets such as China. “It’s evolving and it will change, and there’s a huge potential market for all kinds of movies,” he states.
Inter-Society’s Ken Mason Award
Sid Ganis’ career reads like an insider’s guide to Hollywood. After starting at Fox in the 1960s, followed by stints at Columbia and Seven Arts, he became senior veep at Lucasfilm and then president of Paramount. In 1996, he “poured all that experience” into his own company, Out of the Blue Entertainment, producing such films as “Big Daddy” and “Akeelah and the Bee.” “The business has changed a lot since I began, and people are always saying Hollywood’s in decline, but I’m very optimistic,” says Ganis, who’s working on a pilot, “Pan Am,” for Sony Television and ABC. Films in the pipeline include “The Governess,” “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Johnny Spain” — “a true story about the Black Panther leader which we’re about to produce.”
Global Achievement in Exhibition Award
As vice chairman of South Korea’s powerhouse CJ Group (one of the founding investors in DreamWorks), Lee has spearheaded the company’s entertainment and media division over the past 16 years. Its CGV division, the first and largest multiplex chain in South Korea, offers “everything from state-of-the-art cinemas to new experiences such as 4D and Imax,” she says, “and we have already equipped the majority of our theaters with 3D capabilities.” CJ’s television business has also grown significantly with the recent acquisition of ON Media, a leading cable network operating 16 cable channels, “which perfectly complement the programming that we offer through CJ Media, tvN, Mnet and our movie channel,” adds Lee. “This provides us the opportunity to create original content such as lifestyle programming centered around fashion, food, design, and education.”
Bert Nathan Award
The National Assn. of Concessionaires gives its Bert Nathan Award to Jeff Scudillo, who is VP of special markets for the Promotion in Motion, a New Jersey-based confectionery company. “We are very pleased to honor Jeff for his leadership, his dedication to the concessions industry and his service and support to NAC,” says NAC prexy Ron Krueger II of Southern Theaters.
Docu Filmmaker Award
Morgan Spurlock is not your everyday documentarian. He’s thriving in a genre notorious for its lack of funding, limited distribution and weak box office receipts. Most recently he managed to persuade a series of brands to foot the $1.5 million he needed to make his latest feature docu, “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” A Sundance favorite, the pic delves into the world of product placement, and will be released by Sony Pictures Classics in April. “I just try to make things that I like and speak to me,” Spurlock says. So far that line of attack has worked out well for the director and his production company, Warrior Poets. Since the release of his Oscar-nommed debut doc, “Supersize Me” in 2004, which grossed over $11 million, Spurlock is now looking to unveil his fifth, “Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan’s Hope.” “It’s not just about having talent in this business,” says Spurlock. “You have to be willing to be the squeaky wheel and not give up.”