Jane Alsobrook, an influential film executive, producer and publicist whose marketing work led to the success of numerous films in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, died Dec. 13 at her home in Sedona, Ariz. of breast cancer. She was 78.
Alsobrook’s career in movies began in 1971. She was recruited to help organize the Los Angeles Film Exposition, or Filmex and soon became part of what is now known as “New Hollywood” — a group that included Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, George Lucas and more. While working for Roger Corman, she also supervised the 1975 Academy Award campaign for “Amarcord,” resulting in four nominations and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
In 1975, Alsobrook entered the music industry as national publicity director for ABC Records, working alongside legends such as The Pointer Sisters, Steely Dan, Crosby and Nash and Chaka Khan. She then moved back to the world of film in the 1980s and became the head of Twentieth Century Fox Classics, acquiring “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” “Eating Raoul,” “The Gods Must Be Crazy” and more. She also helped bring the Ramones to “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.”
After Fox closed the Classics division, Alsobrook partnered with Charles Lippincott and the two formed their own marketing company. Alsobrook was the unit publicist on “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “The Black Stallion Returns” and “Creepshow.” During this time, Alsobrook also became involved with the launch of Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, where she became a key member on multiple panels advising filmmakers on creative marketing and distribution in the coming years.
“Jane was a pioneer in film marketing and deeply dedicated to finding and engaging audiences for the bold and visionary films that defined the ’80s and ’90s,” said Michele Satter, Sundance Institute founding senior director, Artist Program.
Alsobrook then returned to the major studios by becoming Sr. VP of marketing and distribution at Columbia Pictures, where she did the marketing for Spike Lee’s “School Daze” and led the Academy Award campaign for “The Last Emperor,” which resulted in nine Oscars including Best Picture. After leaving Columbia, she became president of marketing at Island Pictures and then later headed the film division at the Becker Film Group in Australia, where she helped the Becker Group acquire films including “Thank God He Met Lizzie” and “The Blair Witch Project.”
Alsobrook’s battle with cancer first began in 1992. She helped found the Los Angeles activist breast cancer group LABC and in 1994 was a leader of a delegation that successfully met with Hilary Clinton and Leon Panetta at the White House, resulting in an over $200 million allocation for women’s cancer research.
Eventually, Alsobrook and her husband, Australian actor and writer Gerard Maguire, relocated to Sedona, where Alsobrook worked as co-producer of the 2008 independent feature “Brothel.”
“Impressive as her career in films was, it was her warmth and wisdom that endeared her to everyone she met. As news of her passing spreads, a common theme from tributes is her radiance from light that seemed to emanate from her. She was much loved and is heartbreakingly missed,” said Maguire.