“Films with established brand awareness, big spectacle and event status have the broadest appeal globally,” says Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, who heads up international distribution for Warner Bros.
Few films boasted more buzz or onscreen magic than the “Harry Potter” franchise, which Kwan-Rubinek helped turn into a $7.7 billion box office juggernaut for WB over the past decade. And this summer’s final installment, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2,” wrapped up with a record-breaking worldwide bow of $481.5 million ($312.3 million coming from 59 territories). It’s earned a whopping $1.3 billion since then, with $944 million coming from international territories.
But Kwan-Rubinek also scored with “The Hangover Part II,” which earned $327 million overseas, nearly 57% of its global haul.
Warner Bros. has consistently turned to Kwan-Rubinek, fluent in five languages, to open its films globally since installing her in her currenty post in 2000.
As she’s risen up the ranks at Warner Bros., her opinions have factored into which films the studio should greenlight. And those that get the go-ahead usually have one thing in common: keeping foreign auds in mind.
What helped “The Hangover” sequel was setting it in Thailand to broaden the laffer’s appeal with foreign auds. Even the “Potter” pics had to be released with campaigns designed for specific countries to keep the series “fresh and unique.”
The reason: “The per capita attendance outside of the U.S. is not as high,” she says. “In most countries, people choose to go to the cinema if it’s considered a special occasion.”
While Kwan-Rubinek is sad to see Harry Potter leave theaters, she’s already moved on to the upcoming “Sherlock Holmes” sequel and Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” films, the first of which will bow next year.
Title: President of international distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures Intl.
Role model: “Aung San Suu Kyi for persevering despite personal and political tragedy and hardships and never wavering from her beliefs.”
Career mantra: “Be flexible and evolve, always maintain your integrity, and never lose sight of the bigger picture.”
Leisure pursuits: “Spending time with my family and anything to do with the outdoors.”
Philanthropic passions: Child Fund Intl., NRDC, the American Red Cross, Heal the Bay, PS Arts, Autism Speaks, Our House