Newly appointed Sony Pictures chief Tom Rothman is familiar with Panitch’s work. They worked together for two decades when Rothman ran Fox’s film division. Panitch served as president of Fox International Productions, a division of 20th Century Fox, and was highly regarded for his ability to make local-language content that appealed to diverse foreign markets. That is increasingly important now that markets such as China rival the U.S. in terms of box office heft and territories like Russia and Japan continue to demonstrate an enormous appetite for high-quality film content.
As president of international film & television, Panitch will report directly to Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. He will oversee global film and television co-productions as well as local-language film and TV productions. It’s a newly created position, one in which Panitch is expected to work closely with Rothman to build a slate of local-language and English-language films that will play well with international audiences. He will also work closely with Steve Mosko on television productions pegged at foreign audiences.
In international television, he will coordinate with Andrea Wong, Sony Pictures Television president of international production, who will continue with all her responsibilities supervising international television production.
“I’m honored to join the SPE team at this pivotal moment in the studio’s history,” Panitch said in a statement. “I am eternally grateful for my years at Fox working with Jim (Gianopulos) and all my longtime colleagues. This new role comes at a time of unprecedented change in the international marketplace, especially in television. It’s a wonderful and unique opportunity to work with Steve Mosko, his outstanding organization and again with my friend Tom Rothman.”
As the founding president of Fox International Productions, Panitch oversaw all local production activities in 12 territories around the globe in Latin America, Europe, India and China. Films made by FIP have grossed more than $900 million at the box office since its inception six years ago. Before establishing the division, Panitch served as president of filmed entertainment at New Regency and exec VP of production at 20th Century Fox.
Fox has yet to name a replacement for Panitch.