Call Richard J. Fox Warner Bros.’ man in Beijing.
The studio, like every other heavy hitter in Hollywood, has been taking China very seriously over the past decade. And WB has tapped its seasoned executive VP of international to lead its expansion into the Middle Kingdom. Fox will be hands on in Beijing starting this month.
Specifically, Fox is the Burbank studio’s representative to the new Flagship Entertainment joint venture, working with partners from China Media Capital and TVB of Hong Kong.
“Whether it’s in Burbank or Beijing, Warner Bros. has a long-standing reputation as being an excellent business and creative partner,” Fox said, as he accepted his new post. “I’m honored that I will be extending the studio’s legacy through our work in China as well as on the Flagship titles.”
In announcing Fox’s move to China, Warner Bros. chairman Kevin Tsujihara says the goal is to cultivate local talent and to work with the studio’s new business partners to create more premium content.
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That was Fox’s metier during the many years he headed international operations for Warner in seven nations: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, India, Japan and the U.K. After attending the State U. of New York at Stony Brook, and then earning a master’s degree in linguistics from the U. of Michigan, Fox took his first job with Warner in 1975. He was a management trainee before becoming managing director of distribution for Columbia-Warner in New Zealand in 1977. The next year, he moved to Tokyo, where he served as managing director for both Japan and Korea. He returned to the U.S. in the early 1980s, eventually earning his current title.
Along the way, Fox has received such honors as France’s Order of Arts and Letters; commander of the Order of Merit in Italy; and, in 2011, CinemaCon’s inaugural Passepartout Award, created to single out the achievements of a film biz exec who has made an impact in the international market.
Warner’s support of local-language productions began in the late 1990s, most notably in Germany and France. WB had success based on the principle that projects should honor local tastes and sensibilities as much as possible.
Indeed, in 2014, WB saw payoff at the B.O. with dramedy “Honig Im Kopf,” which made $63 million in Germany; crimer “La isla minima,” which grossed $8.4 million in Spain; and Japanese action series installments “Kyoto Inferno” ($50 million) and “The Legend Ends” ($40 million).
Alan Horn, Fox’s longtime colleague at Warner, and now Disney Studios chairman, calls the exec “a consummate traveler and a true citizen of the world.” Horn recalled that his wife, Cindy, once asked him: “Why are we inviting Richard Fox to Hawaii on our vacation?” Horn replied: “I’m not comfortable leaving the continental United States without him.”