Warner Bros.’ Sue Kroll Receives Tao Arte Award at Taormina Film Festival

Sue Kroll sits in a sweet spot. As president of worldwide marketing and intl. distribution for Warner Bros. Pictures, she’s overseen launches that have not only achieved box office success but garnered critical acclaim. In 2014 the studio’s slate was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including a best picture nom for “American Sniper” — which happened to gross $545 million worldwide. Other films for which Kroll and her team designed global marketing campaigns: Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” ($674 million), Guillermo del Toro’s “Godzilla” ($527 million), “The Lego Movie” ($468 million) and Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” ($955 million). This year’s releases include “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “San Andreas” and “Entourage.” Kroll shared with Variety her thoughts on receiving Taormina’s prestigious Tao Arte Award.

Variety: Over the years the Taormina Film Festival has invited and honored such Hollywood heavyweights as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Jim Gianopulos, Tom Cruise, Stanley Kramer and Elizabeth Taylor. What does being in such company mean to you?

Kroll: The artists and executives honored by the festival over the years all have moved the art and business of this industry forward in so many ways. Anyone who loves film would be honored to join such a rarefied lineup, and I’m grateful to the festival for selecting me for this privilege.

Variety: As the U.S. domestic box office slows down and overseas b.o. receipts rise, the balance for Hollywood is tipping. How do international film festivals figure in Warner Bros.’ marketing and distribution strategy?

Kroll: Throughout my career, I’ve always seen festivals like Taormina as a vital component in an overseas campaign, but in the contemporary environment, movies are a global business and festivals have become a cornerstone for a successful worldwide initiative. Word-of-mouth from a festival screening alone can often set the tone for a campaign, which is why the international voice is so vital in defining the appeal of a film across the global spectrum.

Variety: What kind of films benefit the most from international festivals?

Kroll: Each film is unique. The most important factor in considering any film for a festival is the confidence of the artistic voice and quality of the work, regardless of genre, style or subject matter. International festivals can benefit a film enormously when the film itself is one of the campaign’s best assets.


More Film

  • Taika Waititi Returning to Direct 'Thor

    Taika Waititi to Direct Marvel's 'Thor 4'

    Taika Waititi is returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The filmmaker will write and direct the sequel to his 2017 blockbuster “Thor: Ragnarok.” Waititi’s take on the fourth “Thor” movie puts Warner Bros.’ long-in-development “Akira” adaptation on hold indefinitely. However, the studio hopes that “Akira” can get resume production with Waititi at the helm once [...]

  • Akira

    'Akira' Production Put on Hold by Warner Bros.

    Warner Bros. has put its long-in-development “Akira” adaptation on hold indefinitely, sources tell Variety. Sources indicate that after a brief delay, the studio has pulled the plug on production indefinitely for the classic anime adaptation, which was set to begin later this fall. “Thor: Ragnarok” helmer Taika Waititi was on board to direct, and the [...]

  • Sir Elton John, David Furnish. Sir

    New Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala to be Held in the South of France

    Elton John and David Furnish are launching a new gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The two will host the inaugural A Midsummer Party benefit on July 24 in the south of France at the Johnny Pigozzi’s private estate, Villa Dorane, in Cap d’Antibes. A cocktail reception will be followed by dinner, a live [...]

  • Sebastian Maniscalco Green Book

    Sebastian Maniscalco Moves Into Movies With 'Green Book' and 'The Irishman'

    As a comedian whose routines not only lampoon Italian stereotypes but demand larger-than-life performances of those cultural peccadilloes, Sebastian Maniscalco has carefully — if inadvertently — created a niche for himself as an actor. In 2018, in between selling out shows at Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden, he took his first steps [...]

  • Erin Westerman

    Lionsgate Promotes Erin Westerman to President of Motion Picture Production

    Lionsgate has promoted veteran executive Erin Westerman to the post of president of production of its Motion Picture Group. Motion Picture Group chairman Joe Drake and motion picture group president Nathan Kahane made the announcement Tuesday. The post has been vacant since earlier this year, when it was held as a co-presidency by Peter Kang [...]

  • Sebastian Maniscalco

    Sebastian Maniscalco Celebrates 20 Years in Comedy

    Developing a rapport with hotel staff members is not uncommon for celebrities, especially those who travel frequently enough because of work or press opportunities to have multiple encounters with folks who carry their luggage, make up their rooms and serve them food. But when comedian Sebastian Maniscalco warmly greets the Four Seasons Los Angeles server [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content