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Joseph Farrell, a pioneering executive in the field of box-office forecasting and one of the most influential behind-the-scenes Hollywood players in his heyday, died Wednesday of natural causes in Los Angeles. He was 76.
As chairman and CEO of the National Research Group — the market planning and research firm that serviced all of the film studios and major producers in Hollywood for 25 years until 2003 — Farrell introduced such services now taken for granted by the film industry as tracking, test screenings, trailers and TV-spot testing as well as norms by “quadrants” and other socio-demographics analyses. All led to early warning forecasting of a movie’s box-office potential.
In 2003, he and partner Catherine Paura sold NRG to Nielsen and started Farrell Paura Productions with a first-look deal at Disney. Farrell also continued as a marketing consultant to top executives at several studios and investment banking groups.
In 2009, FP Productions went independent and has just completed with Alcon Entertainment the feature Joyful Noise, a comedy starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton that will be released in January by Warner Bros. The company also has The Leonardo Job, to be directed by David Twohy, in development with Alcon.
Farrell also served as an executive and consultant to the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. He developed the U.S. Arts and Cultural Trend Data System for Congress and authored Americans and the Arts, Museums: USA and the Cultural Consumer.
Farrell is survived by his wife, Italian actress Jo Champa, and son Sean. Plans for a memorial service are pending.
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