Greenstein will assume the role previously held by Jeff Blake, who was forced out in late July, and oversee the day-to-day management. He will report to Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group.
Friday’s announcement came three days after Variety reported that Greenstein, the former Paramount Pictures chief marketing officer, was in final negotiations with Sony to succeed Blake.
Greenstein, who has been at Paramount since 2005 and previously served as co-president of marketing and executive vice president of creative advertising, had already informed his bosses at the Viacom Inc.-owned studio that he would not be renewing his contract when it expires at the end of this year.
Before joining Paramount, he served as head of marketing for Dimension Films.
“We seized the opportunity to attract someone of Josh’s caliber to lead marketing and distribution for the Motion Picture Group,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “Josh will be instrumental in helping to implement the vision we have for our motion picture business as we utilize cutting edge and innovative approaches to drive audiences to theaters.”
Pascal added, “We are thrilled to welcome Josh to SPE. He has an impressive and unparalleled track record of success, and we are confident that he will be a valuable addition to our executive team.”
The hire of Greenstein comes with Sony Pictures Entertainment under scrutiny following a mixed performance in 2013 and so far in 2014.
The studio saw strong performances from “22 Jump Street” and “Heaven Is for Real” and its franchise “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″ delivered over $700 million worldwide. “RoboCop,” shared with MGM, performed far better overseas ($184 million) than domestically ($58 million) and “The Monuments Men” turned in a middling performance with $155 million worldwide.
“Sex Tape” and “Moms Night Out” were disappointments and fell short of expectations. Sony’s Screen Gems unit has generated respectable business this year with “Think Like a Man Too” while “About Last Night” and “When the Game Stands Talls” turned in moderate showings and “Deliver Us From Evil” fell short.
The studio has also been cutting back starting in November when Lynton disclosed that the studio had launched “a shift in emphasis from motion pictures to television production” along with a focus on cost-containment. Pascal announced late last year the studio would reduce its film output to “closer to 18″ movies per year going forward, from the “low 20s” in recent years.
Sony Entertainment has been pressured since last year by Third Point’s Daniel Loeb, a major shareholder with about 7% of the company. Loeb has criticized the studio for lagging behind competitors in profitability.
Greenstein led campaigns at Paramount on “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “World War Z,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Paranormal Activity,” “True Grit,” “The Fighter” and “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
“I am looking forward to working with the many talented people at SPE. I would like to thank Brad Grey and Rob Moore for the incredible opportunities and leadership they provided me while working for them over the last nine years at Paramount,” he said.