Inside the Fox Exec Shake-Up: Jim Gianopulos' Power Play Explained
Why Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus were elevated, who could be next to go and what role might be left for ex-Warner Bros. studio chief Jeff Robinov.
This story first appeared in the Nov. 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Hollywood obsessed all summer over whether ousted Warner Bros. film chief Jeff Robinov would land at 20th Century Fox. But it turned out people were looking to the wrong man -- or men. On Oct. 16, Fox chief Jim Gianopulos upped longtime international presidents Paul Hanneman, 53, and Tomas Jegeus, 50, to lead worldwide marketing and distribution.
Gianopulos' first major power grab as sole chairman and CEO of Fox -- he shared the top job with Tom Rothman until late 2012 -- also included ousting domestic marketing co-president Oren Aviv, who joined the studio in January 2011. Tony Sella, Aviv's fellow co-president, was given the chance to stay under Jegeus and Hanneman, but he quickly let his new bosses know he was resigning. (Sella skipped a morning meeting called by Gianopulos on Oct. 17 to announce the reorganization. Sella has threatened to quit before, however, and at posting time it remained unclear when or if he actually will leave.)
Many within Fox long have recognized a problem with its domestic marketing. Part of the reason could be that Sella, considered the creative brain, and Aviv never got along. "It became apparent there was no unity in the department," says one source.
Conversely, Hanneman and Jegeus -- who will continue to report directly to Gianopulos -- have enjoyed stunning success since taking over international marketing and distribution in 2005. Fox's foreign box-office revenue has passed $2 billion for five consecutive years, a record for a Hollywood studio.
Gianopulos, who rose through the studio's international side, says the move recognizes the importance of the global industry. "Someone sneezes in Chicago, and they say 'I bless you' in Brussels," he tells THR, noting that several studios have consolidated marketing operations into a global division, including Paramount and Disney. "Also, we are not a company that embraces silos."
Adds Hanneman: "The industry has changed. National cultural borders have all but been eradicated by the new digital reality. Combining operations -- both distribution and marketing -- will allow us to get out in front of our campaigns and better manage our process."
Jegeus and Hanneman have two key allies with strong ties to Fox: Former News Corp. president Peter Chernin, whose production company Chernin Entertainment now has a deal with the studio, and DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, whose films now go out through Fox. "Without question, they built the leading international organization and are aggressive and innovative," says Katzenberg.
The promotion of Hanneman and Jegeus does not preclude a future at Fox for Robinov, whose chief talents are in creative development. However, insiders say Robinov pushed back when informally approached about the possibility of becoming Gianopulos' No. 2 (i.e., a possible vice chairmanship). The No. 2 job could still be open to Robinov, but the ball is in his court.