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After four years as co-chair of the Lionsgate motion picture group, Rob Friedman is stepping down from that post and will segue into a new role as special adviser to the office of the CEO, it was announced Friday by Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer.
The motion picture group will continue to be run by its current executive team that includes Patrick Wachsberger, who has been serving as co-chair alongside Friedman; motion picture group co-president Erik Feig; Lionsgate co-COO Steve Beeks; chief brand officer and president of worldwide theatrical marketing Tim Palen; president of acquisitions and co-productions Jason Constantine; and president of domestic theatrical distribution David Spitz.
Friedman and Wachsberger joined Lionsgate in early 2012, when Lionsgate acquired Summit Entertainment, where, since in 2007, Friedman had served as co-chairman and CEO. Prior to that, Friedman was at Paramount, where he served as vice chairman of the motion picture group and, later, chief operating officer. He began his career at Warner Bros., where he spent 27 years rising through the ranks before moving to Paramount.
“Rob has played an integral role in leading the successful growth and diversification of our Motion Picture Group over the past four years, and he has helped assemble one of the strongest and most exciting film slates in our history,” Feltheimer said in making the announcement. “We look forward to his continued guidance and counsel in navigating a fast-changing industry environment. In his capacity as my Special Advisor, he will be working closely with me on our OTT platforms, Atom Tickets partnership and other new ventures.”
He continued: “Our current Motion Picture Group leadership has the complementary skills and forward-looking vision to capitalize on opportunities in a dynamic global marketplace. They are the right team to continue to accelerate the momentum of our slate and to lead our film business to the next level of performance.”
Friedman said in a statement of his own: “I am excited by the opportunity to work closely with Jon, Michael Burns and the rest of the Lionsgate leadership team in helping to guide the overall strategic direction of the company. It has been a privilege to serve as Co-Chair of Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group for the past four years, and I have been fortunate to work with a team of world-class executives in every facet of our film business.”
At Summit, Friedman and Wachsberger struck box-office gold with the Twilight franchise, the first installment of which was released in 2008, and also earned the company’s first best-picture Oscar win with 2009’s The Hurt Locker. After the Lionsgate/Summit acquisition, they oversaw a second young-adult series turned blockbluster franchise in The Hunger Games.
Recent Lionsgate releases have included Now You See Me 2, the company’s biggest 2016 release with $331.4 million in worldwide grosses, and the fading franchise film The Divergent Series: Allegiance, which has collected $179.2 million globally.
This weekend, Lionsgate is launching a new version of Blair Witch, and its upcoming slate incudes Deepwater Horizon, starring Mark Wahlberg and set for a Sept. 30 release, and the awards hopeful La La Land, which has already made a splash on the festival circuit and will hit theaters Dec. 2.
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