PPI taps territory chiefs in Japan, Spain

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LONDON -- Paramount Pictures International, the studio's overseas releasing arm, has hired former Buena Vista International executive Ichiro Okazaki to run its outpost in Japan and has promoted Pierre Auger from within to look after its Spanish operations.

PPI president Andrew Cripps said the appointments will help the fledgling operation grow in key territories. The two-part move signals another step in the phasing out of Paramount and Universal's jointly owned United International Pictures.

Okazaki, who takes over as Paramount Pictures Japan president Sept. 1, most recently was BVI's vp sales. Cripps said Okazaki brings "over 15 years experience in the Japanese motion picture industry" to Paramount's new-look Japanese division.

PPI Japan replaces UIP Japan. The company will combine Paramount's theatrical activities in the country with its existing home entertainment arm, Paramount Home Entertainment Japan.

When Paramount and Universal decided to reorganize UIP last year and assume sole ownership and operation of their distribution operations in certain countries, Japan was one of the countries where the restructured UIP was to have continued to distribute the films of both companies.

However, PPI and Universal Pictures International apparently decided to set up their own separate operations in Japan. UPI entered an agreement this year with Japanese distributor Toho-Towa to distribute Universal films in the Japanese market.

Spain was a territory in which Universal initially was to handle distribution for both companies after the UIP breakup. However, it was expected that Paramount would establish its own separate operations in the territory at some point.

Auger, who currently heads the marketing division of Paramount Home Entertainment Spain, takes on the role of GM at Paramount Pictures Spain beginning in December.

"We are very pleased to be making this appointment from within the Paramount organization," Cripps said. "With our tremendous lineup of films for 2008, we look forward to great success in the Spanish marketplace."

As part of the UIP separation agreement, PPI product will continue to be distributed by Universal Pictures Spain through July.
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