Christiansen grew up pretty much surrounded by the film business. As a boy he lived next to two drive-in theaters that his father managed. Fast forward a few years and his first job in the industry was as a booker for Columbia Pictures. Since then, he has risen to become head of operations at DreamWorks, before transitioning to his current role of executive vice president of worldwide operations after Paramount acquired DreamWorks’ live-action division in late 2005.
When the acquisition happened, Christiansen says he was immediately at an advantage because of his advanced knowledge of the digital cinema business.
“Paramount had not gone very deeply into the digital cinema business, and at DreamWorks we had looked at digital cinema from the very first days, so I was pretty up to date on everything and I ended running point for Paramount on all of the virtual print fee deals that were being done with exhibitors all over the world,” he says. “That’s how I ended up in international.”
That makes him the perfect candidate to receive the Passepartout Award, which is given to an industry executive “who demonstrates dedication and commitment to the international marketplace.”
Christiansen describes himself as “the one who takes those American movies and gets them ready for release around the world.” Over the years, he says, the international markets in which he works have become increasingly important to studios, and he certainly doesn’t see the trend stopping anytime soon.
“The United States is a mature market, it’s still the biggest and the strongest market, but the rest of the world has become hugely important, so what you’re seeing the international territories release before US dates, which was pretty much unheard of until the last couple years.”
Rather than feeling sad or apprehensive that the U.S. movie market may not be top dog for much longer, Christiansen says he embraces the growth he has seen in markets from around the world.
“I welcome it, it just means that you have more people enjoying movies around the world, I don’t care what country they’re in, if people want to enjoy the movies, then God bless.”