The Chosen Ones

Cinema Expo honors stellar performances

Special Report: CineExpo

International Distributor of the Year
Daniel Frigo, executive vp and GM, EMEA, Disney

In his more than 17 years with Disney, the biggest change Daniel Frigo has seen has been "the evolution of international from an incremental business to part of the main course."

Daniel Frigo
Frigo says he's able to do his job by working closely with all Disney divisions. "A word you will hear internally a lot is 'synergy,' " he says. "What's fantastic about our company and makes it different from many others is how well that collaboration works across all the multiple lines of business."

After attending UC Berkeley and earning an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA, Frigo, a first-generation American (his parents were from England and Italy) began working in sales and marketing for fashion house Christian Dior -- though he aspired to work in the entertainment industry. He got his chance when fellow Anderson School grads Mark Zoradi and Anthony Marcoly hired him to work at Disney.

After three years at the Burbank headquarters, Frigo was assigned to London, for what he was told would be a two-year assignment. "Fourteen and a half years later," he says, "I'm still here."

Supervising a vast geographical area, while staying closely connected to his bosses in Burbank, Frigo says he's like "a band leader, or a football manager. I have a phenomenal team and I kind of wave the wand or call the plays, but it's the players who are exceptional."

Although many movies have the same promotional campaign worldwide, Frigo says they look at each picture to fine-tune it to local tastes and sensibilities.

"Somebody said to me the other day a great metaphor," Frigo says. "Global today is acting very intelligently locally. But acting locally is critical. I think we do that quite well."

International Exhibitor of the Year
Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group

Rupert Gavin
With 1,800 screens at 202 locations in seven countries -- Austria, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the U.K. -- Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group, owned by private-equity firm Terra Firma, is the largest European exhibitor and the largest circuit outside the U.S.

In April, CEO Rupert Gavin announced private financing for the conversion of Odeon theaters to digital, calling it "a significant milestone toward enabling us to rollout a transformation of the cinema industry." The emphasis will be on opening 3-D capable screens as quickly as possible.

The three-year rollout, costing £37 million, according to the company, will be "the most extensive in Europe and will provide access to a 3-D offering for over 80%" of its potential customers.

The deal includes a virtual print fee program paid for by the major movie distributors to repay the investors, and will impact Odeon theaters in all the countries where it operates.

International Director of the Year
Pierre Morel

French director Pierre Morel began his career in filmmaking as a camera and steadicam operator, later becoming a director of photography, working with filmmaker Luc Besson on such films as "The Transporter" and "Unleashed." Morel took the leap from cinematography to directing when he was given the chance to helm 2005's "District B13." His sophomore effort, "Taken," has raked in more than $250 million worldwide, making it the most successful film of 2009 to date.

Award of Appreciation
Chas Evans, senior vp, creative affairs, Paramount Pictures International

In his London post as senior vp, creative affairs, Chas Evans oversees creation of movie one sheets, trailers, TV spots and other marketing materials for distribution around the globe.

"I sit like some kind of weird spider pulling it all together," Evans says. "We reach out to the territories, get their feedback, discuss issues and build all that into our creative efforts. ... It's sort of a juggling act to try and get something that works in the particular territory without misrepresenting the film."

A London native, Evans began his career at WEA Records in 1977 before moving to Warner Home Video and later CIC Video International. He spent 15 years with the UIP Creative Services Department. When UIP dissolved two years ago, he became head of International Creative Services for the newly formed Paramount International.

It has been a time of innovation. When Evans started out in in the business, all the marketing materials had to be transported by van and plane. Today most are sent over the Internet on a secure line.

The biggest change, however, has been the advent of tentpole movies one after the other, often released almost simultaneously worldwide. "We used to look and see what happened in America and tailored our campaign to the results," Evans says. "We don't have that luxury anymore. We're now involved much earlier in the process with filmmakers and my domestic colleagues. I can now pick up the phone and talk to the man designing the poster or cutting the trailer or doing the TV spots where before I (wouldn't) even have known who that person was."