Colligan: Making popcorn pics pop for even wider auds

Women's Impact Report 2011: Megan Colligan

During a 2 1/2-month window, Paramount marketing co-prexy Megan Colligan flaunted her own super powers by helping launch five films that topped the $100 mark domestically, including a pair of new-to-the-bigscreen superhero pics with “Thor” and “Captain America” as well as the 3D spectacle “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” which ranks as the No. 2 movie of the year.

The challenge (these days) is so straightforward — audiences are smarter, more connected, with a much more savvy bullshit detector,” says Colligan, who works in tandem with fellow marketing prexy Josh Greenstein. “With every film you need to be aggressive and clever but authentic to the film and respectful of its core audience, all the while doing everything in your power to expand the audience as much as possible.”

The third “Transformers” installment faced a particularly vexing obstacle. The Michael Bay-helmed film, which employed groundbreaking 3D technology, hit the multiplex at a time when 3D had become a popular whipping boy for fanboys and critics alike.

The stakes were even higher for “Thor” and “Captain America,” which needed successful runs given the expectation that they kick-start individual franchises as well as set up next year’s superhero ensemble “The Avengers.” Both films finished in the top 10 domestically so far, with worldwide hauls of $448.5 million and $348.5 million, respectively.

The key (was) to make it look cool and always respect the fan base,” explains Colligan of the Marvel superheroes. ” ‘Thor’ offers a rich, interesting world, but out of context the Bifrost and the costumes could be off-putting for an uninitiated viewer.”

Colligan says she has very broad personal taste, which helps her effortlessly shift between the tentpoles, Oscar contenders like “True Grit” and romantic comedies like “No Strings Attached.”

“Sometimes I love films that are challenging and emotional, and sometimes I love the escapist films that are silly,” notes Colligan. “I feel tremendously lucky to be able to think all day long about movies.”

Title: Co-president, marketing, Paramount Pictures
Role model: “My mom and dad taught be to work hard and love what you do.”
Career mantra: “Have fun and try to laugh as much as possible.”
Leisure pursuits: “I used to have lots of hobbies, but now I have three kids. So my hobby is watching them do their hobbies.”
Political passion: “Education is a big focus for me,” says the Harvard alum. “I benefitted from scholarships my whole life.”