Marc Weinstock is out as president of worldwide marketing at Sony Pictures.
Sony Pictures Entertainment chiefs Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal decided to make a change in the studio’s marketing team following a downbeat summer where the studio fielded such major disappointments as After Earth and White House Down.
No immediate replacement for Weinstock was named. If the studio promotes from its own ranks, one possible candidate is Dwight Caines, who joined the studio in 1997, working his way up through the marketing ranks until being named president of worldwide digital marketing in 2008.
The move reflects a larger executive shake-up that is taking place at Sony, where last week Steve Elzer, a 12 year-veteran of the studio, announced that he is stepping down as senior vp, media relations.
Weinstock appears to be taking the fall for a dismal run at the box office. Sony has suffered a string of duds. After Earth, starring Will Smith, grossed just $60.5 million domestically and $243.6 million worldwide, while White House Down took in $73.1 million domestically and $185 million worldwide. Over this past weekend, Chris Brown‘s 3D dance film Battle of the Year, from Screen Gems, bombed, grossing a meager $4.6 million.
The studio’s poor performance took a further hit in July from Daniel Loeb, whose New York-based hedge fund Third Point has accumulated nearly 7 percent of Sony’s common stock. Calling the studio “poorly managed,” he blasted its corporate structure as “bloated” and specifically targeted “marketing budgets that do not seem to be in line with any sense of return on capital investment.”
When box office returns fall short, it’s marketing executives that are often the first to be blamed, and Weinstock is the second marketing chief to be shown the door in less than two months after a tought summer for some companies. Anne Globe, who ran marketing at DreamWorks Animation existed Jeffrey Katzenberg‘s studio after the poor showing of the animated tentpole Turbo, which followed last winter’s Rise of the Guardians, which resulted in a major loss. Veteran executive Dawn Taubin, who used to head up marketing at Warner Bros., stepped in as Globe’s replacement.
Weinstock was hailed as a wunderkind when he and Valerie Van Galder were named co-heads of marketing in 2008 — years before, the two had worked together at Fox Searchlight. When Van Galder existed the studio in 2009, Weinstock became the studio’s sole marketing head under Sony marketing and distribution chief Jeff Blake. He had a hand in the release of such hits as The Amazing Spider-Man, Grown Ups and the Bond pics Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. And he turned the sci-fi movie District 9 into a box office hit with a maverick marketing campaign.
Weinstock stepped into the marketing ranks at big Sony after having handled marketing at Screen Gems, Sony’s genre label, beginning in 2006. Previous to that, he spent three years as a director of marketing for Fox Searchlight.