Lionsgate Splitting Marketing Groups; Tim Palen and Nancy Kirkpatrick to Stay
The studio has worked out a compromise that seems to have satisfied both executives in the short term while planting the seeds of a long-term plan.
Lionsgate marketing head Tim Palen and Summit marketing chief Nancy Kirkpatrick are both staying with the company, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The Hunger Games studio has closed a new long-term deal with Palen, who will now run marketing for the Lionsgate-branded film slate. Kirkpatrick will head up marketing for Summit-branded films, including the final installment of the Twilight franchise, set for release in late November.
There had been widespread speculation in Hollywood that one of the marketing execs would depart Lionsgate in the wake of the company's merger with Summit this year. As part of that deal, Summit's Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger took control of the film studio, potentially giving Summit's Kirkpatrick the inside track. But Palen is considered a talented marketing executive, responsible for the campaign for Lionsgate's current blockbuster Hunger Games. The studio now has worked out a compromise that seems to have satisfied both executives in the short term while planting the seeds of a long-term plan.
Combining the two studios has resulted in a large number of films on the upcoming release slate, so splitting the duties and allowing each executive to run his and her own slate makes sense. However, once the merged Lionsgate trims its film slate to about 14 films a year, as it has said it plans to do, two marketing heads probably won't make sense.
At that point, locking Palen into a long-term deal probably gives him the pole position to remain with the company.
UPDATE: Lionsgate is confirming the news with a press release announcing Palin's new long-term deal.
"Tim is a gifted marketing executive who has been a driving force in the success of our motion picture business over the years, and he elevated his game to a new level with a groundbreaking marketing campaign for The Hunger Games," said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer and vice chairman Michael Burns in a statement. "His marketing campaigns integrate digital and traditional resources in innovative and cost-effective ways that reflect Lionsgate's entrepreneurial culture at its best."
"One of the great benefits of Summit’s recent merger with Lionsgate is the opportunity to be in business with a marketing executive as talented as Tim,” said Friedman and Wachsberger said in a statement. “As we roll out a combined slate capable of generating more than a billion dollars at the North American box office, we are fortunate to have two extremely talented marketing executives to guide both the Lionsgate and Summit brands going forward.”