Paramount’s massive makeover has kicked into high gear, with chairman Brad Grey tapping Revolution Studios partner Rob Moore to become Par’s president of worldwide marketing, distribution and operations.
Grey’s choice of Moore — an exec known as a financial strategist rather than a player in marketing and distribution — for the newly created position underscores the extent of what’s become a top-to-bottom shakeup at Paramount.
Grey said the move was part of his effort to push Paramount into reacting more nimbly to the fast-changing entertainment world. He used Thursday’s announcement to unveil what he dubbed a “streamlined” reporting structure under which four execs — Moore, studio prexy Gail Berman, chief financial officer Mark Badagliacca and homevideo president Tom Lesinski — report directly to him along with the Paramount Classics specialty division.
Moore starts Aug. 1 and takes over a significant part of the duties of the departing Rob Friedman, the motion picture group’s vice chair and chief operating officer who’s ankling after eight years. He won’t oversee homevid or the specialty films operations but he’ll be responsible for administration, legal and business affairs and backlot operations.
Moore told Daily Variety that he’ll be focused on long-term issues, with Paramount’s international operations as a top priority.
He said he’ll leave Par’s day-to-day operations in marketing to president Gerry Rich and in distribution to prexy Wayne Lewellen.
“I’m not going to be in the editing room cutting trailers,” Moore added. “There’s no question that the marketing team has been working effectively with the success of ‘War of the Worlds’ and ‘The Longest Yard.’ ”
Grey indicated no decision has been made yet on whether Par will remain in its 24-year-old UIP partnership with Universal, but indications are Par will not renew the 50-50 partnership, headquartered in London with 35 offices and 650 employees.
The UIP agreement — which also covers DreamWorks’ foreign distribution — expires in 15 months, but the parties must decide whether to renew by Oct. 31.
Grey noted that Paramount faces a daunting task if it decides to set up its own offshore distribution operation.
“We’re part of a substantial global media with huge initiatives around the world,” he said. “It’s important to compete effectively on a global basis.”
Under the Sherry Lansing/Jon Dolgen regime, Paramount pioneered the strategy of selling off foreign rights in order to limit financial risk. Grey indicated he’s more interested in maximizing the upside in offshore territories.
“We want to be prudent about our risk, but it’s clear that you have to spend money to make money,” Grey said. “We are going to make bets in what we believe in.”
Grey had managed to keep his interest in Moore under the radar until this week. The duo first met in May.
Revolution partner Joe Roth “told me that opportunities like this don’t come along very often,” said Moore, who was exec VP of operations and finance at the company. “What’s most attractive to me is trying to help turn around what’s one of Hollywood’s premier assets.”
Move comes four months after Grey took over the Paramount chairmanship from Lansing and subsequently replaced the top production execs with the aim of reinventing Par as a destination for both star-driven and leading-edge projects.
Moore spent 13 years at Disney, where he was a dealmaker but had no relationship to distribution or marketing. During his tenure at the Mouse House, he was instrumental in formulating the company’s output agreement with Pixar Animation Studios and the financing/production agreement with Spyglass Entertainment.
At Revolution, Moore was key in constructing the output deal at Sony Pictures along with a TV deal via Fox Broadcasting and a cable pact with Liberty Media’s Starz Encore Group. Those three companies invested several hundred million dollars in Revolution in exchange for a collective stake of about 25%.
Moore’s the second partner to depart Revolution this year as it renegotiates its partnership with Sony. Todd Garner stepped down in May for a nonexclusive, first-look producing deal at Revolution; remaining partners are Joe Roth, Tom Sherak and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.
Revolution’s equity deal at Sony expires at the end of 2006. The two companies are in negotiations, though the parties are far from a resolution.
Due to the uneven performance of Revolution’s slate — pics have ranged from “Black Hawk Down” to “Gigli” — extension of the partnership has been questioned, particularly as Sony has bulked up its properties with the recent MGM buyout.