Penn Schoen Berland Acquires First Movies International

Via its partnership with the marketing research firm, the strategic consulting company aims to provide clients with "high-level consultation through all stages of a film’s global lifecycle."

Strategic consulting company Penn Schoen Berland has expanded its capability in the entertainment business by acquiring First Movies International, which provides marketing research and consults with Hollywood studios and other show business clients, it was announced Wednesday. The combined entity will a range of service in consumer market research, including franchise management, green-light research, marketing positioning, test screenings, focus groups, creative advertising testing, box office tracking, exits, and home entertainment.

“First Movies strength in qualitative and playability research combined with our quantitative and marketability expertise will provide our clients with high-level consultation through all stages of a film’s global lifecycle,” Jon J. Penn, President of Media and Entertainment at Penn Schoen Berland said in a statement. “The time is now for a more sophisticated, integrated research framework for launching and managing global franchises and marketing campaigns based on insights gleaned from next-generation methods.”

First Movies, founded in 2000 to do research for film business clients worldwide, will now come under the umbrella of WPP plc, which is one of the largest advertising agencies in the world, with headquarters in London. It is considered the worlds largest advertising group of companies by revenue, with operations in some 107 countries. Among the advertising, marketing and PR agencies and consultancies that WPP has acquired over the years are Grey, Burston-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton, JWT, Ogilvy Group and Young & Rubicam.

Penn Schoen Berland is one of the Young & Rubican brands. It’s specialty is messaging and communications strategy for political, corporate and entertainment clients. It has over 200 consultants and offices in Washington, D.C., New York, London, Seattle, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dubai, Beijing, New Delhi, and Denver. Penn Schoen Berland does polling for The Hollywood Reporter at times, drawing on its extensive global research consultancies.

First Movies clients include major film studiossuch as Disney, Paramount, Sony and Fox, as well as independent distributors, production companies and industry affiliates.

 “It is essential that our entertainment clients, like our corporate clients, have a finger on the pulse of their consumers in every corner of the globe,” said Mark J. Penn, the CEO of Penn Schoen Berland and the global PR firm Burson-Marsteller.

“As the entertainment industry evolves and assignments become more global this move ensures First Movies can offer high-level service to its entertainment clients on a worldwide stage,” said David Willing, Managing Director of First Movies. “Penn Schoen Berland’s growth moves it into the international arena which is exactly what our combined client base needs. Both companies share many similar clients and working practices.”

Penn Schoen Berland was founded in 1975 as a political polling firm and has worked for many political leaders, including President Bill Clinton, Senator Hillary Clinton, and Prime Minister Tony Blair. Its Media and Entertainment practice was founded in 2001 and, according to the announcement, is the fastest growing unit of the firm working with most of the major Hollywood studios, video game, and magazine publishers.

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