Pula the newest Mouseketeer

Exec tapped marketing prexy

Chris Pula, who was terminated abruptly last year as marketing topper for Warner Bros., is officially ensconced at the Mouse House.

Pula starts today as prexy of marketing for Buena Vista Pictures Marketing. The confirmation of the post comes after more than a month of reports that he was headed to Disney (Daily Variety, Oct. 9).

He replaces John Cywinski, who will stay on with Disney as part of the Motion Picture Group.

Pula, who has held high-ranking posts at New Line Cinema and 20th Century Fox, will oversee marketing campaigns for all feature pics released under the Walt Disney, Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures banners.

He reports directly to Dick Cook, chairman of the Walt Disney Motion Picture Group. He also will be responsible for overseeing creative advertising, media, publicity, market research and promotions for all Buena Vista releases.

“Chris Pula has an incredible marketing mind,” Cook said in a statement. “He never runs out of ideas and always brings a fresh perspective to his work. He has spearheaded some truly groundbreaking marketing campaigns.”

Conflicting styles

At Warner Bros., Pula was dismissed in late 1997 after just a year on the job. He had conflicts with WB chairmen Bob Daly and Terry Semel over his idiosyncratic approach to the job and the company’s buttoned-down executive lifestyle. They also partially blamed him for poor openings of some WB films.

Cook said Pula’s flamboyant attitude is fine with Disney as long as he does the job.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” he told Daily Variety. “What he brings is an attitude that is great. We constantly need to keep evaluating and doing things differently and looking at the things that we’re doing.

“In this business, everything after a while starts to look the same. With Chris, he always looks at things differently.”

Pula is a longtime friend and associate of Walt Disney Studios chairman Joe Roth. Years ago, the two worked together at 20th Century Fox. Sources said Roth pushed heavily for Pula to join Disney after he left Warner Bros.

Pula has already worked with Disney over the last 10 months as a consultant on such pics as “Armageddon,” “Six Days, Seven Nights,” “The Horse Whisperer” and “Beloved.”

‘I grew up with Disney’

Pula said he was eager to join the Mouse, a company that he considers “the gold standard” in filmmaking.

“I grew up with Disney in the house on Sunday night in my pajamas,” he said. “It’s like returning to a family. It’s like the gold standard. Who in their right mind would turn down this gig?”

Before the WB post, Pula was with New Line for four years, developing campaigns for “The Mask,” “Dumb and Dumber,” “Seven,” “Friday,” “Michael” and “Rumble in the Bronx.”

He spent four years as senior VP of marketing for Fox, working on such pics as “Home Alone,” “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Die Hard 2: Die Harder,” “Working Girl” and “Last of the Mohicans.”

He began his career at CNN in Atlanta.

Cywinski still reports directly to Cook, helping with a number of special projects at Buena Vista. Cywinski joined Disney two years ago after forging a marketing relationship between Disney and Burger King, where he had been head of marketing.

“John is an outstanding marketing executive with a wide range of talents,” Cook said. “His knowledge and experience will be a tremendous asset in the increasingly competitive marketplace.”

During his tenure at the Mouse, Cywinski oversaw campaigns for “The Waterboy,” “101 Dalmatians,” “Evita,” “Hercules,” “Flubber,” “The Horse Whisperer,” “Armageddon,” “Mulan” and the upcoming “Enemy of the State” and “A Bug’s Life.”