Sandy Reisenbach, Former Warner Bros. Marketing and Advertising Exec, Dies at 82

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The studio veteran guided the campaigns for the Batman and Lethal Weapon franchises and for such films as 'Chariots of Fire' and 'Private Benjamin'

Sandy Reisenbach, a former marketing and advertising guru at Warner Bros., died Tuesday at his home in Beverly Hills following a lengthy illness, the studio announced. He was 82.

Reisenbach joined Warner Bros. Pictures in 1979 as executive vp advertising and publicity, where he guided more than 250 marketing campaigns, including those for the 1982 Oscar best picture winner Chariots of Fire, the Batman and Lethal Weapon franchises and the comedy hits Private Benjamin and Police Academy.

After a decade in the film division, Reisenbach was promoted to executive vp marketing and planning for Warner Bros. For the next 12 years, he oversaw and advised the studio on worldwide marketing and gained oversight of Warner Bros. Family Entertainment; Warner Bros. Animation; the company's kids’ programming and marketing initiatives; and theme park interests. 

In 2001, he stepped away from his day-to-day responsibilities to become a consultant to then-studio heads Barry Meyer and Alan Horn.

A year later, The Hollywood Reporter honored Reisenbach for his groundbreaking contributions to the art and business of movie marketing and advertising during the 31th annual Key Art Awards.

“I’ve been fortunate throughout my career to have worked with some of the world’s most talented and creative filmmakers and to have been a part of the marketing team for some of the most popular and successful films of all time,” he said at the time.

Survivors include his daughter, Amy Reisenbach, vp current programing at CBS Entertainment. She was featured on THR’s 2014 Next Gen list.

“Sandy was a good friend and helped me immensely when I joined the company in 1994,” said Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara in a statement. “He was always incredibly generous with his time and expertise — not just with me, but with everyone.

“Sandy’s legacy lives on today at Warner Bros. and across the industry through the countless executives he helped mentor and the many careers he helped shape over the years. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this very difficult time.”  

Reisenbach’s career began in the early 1950s in the mailroom of the Dancer Fitzgerald Sample advertising agency. Meanwhile, he attended night school at New York University’s School of Commerce, working toward a marketing degree.

He left for a job at Grey Advertising, where he created an entertainment division that planned and bought media specifically for films and telefilms. Warner Bros. Pictures was one of his biggest clients, and after 20 years with Grey, he was lured to the studio by top Warner Bros. execs Steve Ross, Ted Ashley and Frank Wells.

Reisenbach served on the board of directors for the Association of National Advertisers and was a past chairman of the Advertising & Publicity Committee of the Motion Picture Association of America. He also was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Reisenbach worked as an adjunct professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business.

In 1991, Reisenbach’s son John, then a 33-year-old TV executive, was shot and killed in Greenwich Village. That led to the New York media community establishing the John A. Reisenbach Foundation, an organization dedicated to creating a better and safer New York.

“Sandy was a dear friend, mentor and colleague for almost four decades,” Meyer, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. from 1999-2013, said in a statement. “His professional accomplishments, while truly impressive, pale in comparison to his humanitarian activities. He cared about making the world a better place and was doing something about it. He was truly one of the good guys, and I will miss him very much.”  

In addition to Amy, survivors include his wife Gayle, daughter Liza and a granddaughter. A service will take place at 10 a.m. on Friday at Hillside Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center or a charity of one’s choice.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4