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Veteran Executive Julie Fontaine to Head Netflix Film Publicity (EXCLUSIVE)

Veteran publicity executive Julie Fontaine has left Lionsgate and will be heading up film publicity for Netflix starting at the end of the month, Variety has learned.

She will report to chief communications officer Jonathan Friedland. A Netflix spokesperson confirmed the hire, saying, “She’s a superstar. We are very excited.”

Fontaine joined Lionsgate in March, 2011, as executive VP of theatrical publicity after co-head of film marketing Sarah Greenberg had departed for a job with the Weinstein Company. Fontaine, who reported to marketing topper Tim Palen, had been VP of domestic publicity at Disney Studios and had held PR positions at Miramax and Cowboy Pictures.

During her tenure, Lionsgate has expanded through the $412 million acquisition of Summit Entertainment in early 2012 and the $4 billion purchase of Starz late last year.

Summit handled publicity on the fifth and final “Twilight” movie, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2,” which generated $830 million in worldwide box office and enabled Lionsgate to top the $1 billion mark in domestic grosses for the first time.

Fontaine handled publicity on Lionsgate’s four-film “Hunger Games” franchise, which grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide and established Jennifer Lawrence as global star; “Sicario,” which received three Academy Award nominations; “Hacksaw Ridge,” which received six Academy Award nominations; and breakthrough musical comedy-drama “La La Land,” which received 14 Academy Award nomiations and won six Oscars on its way to grossing $450 million worldwide.

Netflix has been aggressive in film acquisition and development. The streaming giant had two titles — Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories” and Bong Joon-ho’s “Okja” — among those vying for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival last month. The festival announced it would change its rules starting next year and ban any films from competition that do not have French theatrical releases.

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