UPDATE: Lionsgate’s announcement today of a reorganization of international operations looks to be one of the final elements to its integration of Summit. But the impact of the companies’ consolidation has yet to be fully borne out on an international scale. The upcoming Cannes Film Festival should be a good indicator of the future shape of the new entity. Following the departure in February of Summit International president David Garret – announced during the EFM in Berlin – Lionsgate today confirmed speculation that head of international Helen Lee Kim is also departing. She will remain through the Cannes market which runs from May 16-25, however, and is expected to fully exit near the end of the year. After laying off about 80 staff across the two companies in March, I hear that no further firings came as a result of today’s restructure.
Ever since the tie-up of the companies was announced in January, the international biz has been concerned the consolidation would eliminate an important supplier of product as well as an important US partner. I understand the combined company will handle about 5 new titles in Cannes with an eventual slate of around 14 per year including in-house productions and third party acquisitions. I’m also hearing that Summit, which has a slew of output deals across a multitude of foreign territories, may look to expand some of those deals to cover Lionsgate films as well. Meanwhile, I understand the company could aim to create output deals with buyers who have been longtime customers of Lionsgate. Will this be a welcome turn on the international level? One overseas buyer tells me big shifts like this are difficult, “You don’t jump up and down, but it’s in line with what’s been happening in terms of consolidation over the past couple of years.”
EARLIER: Lionsgate issued a release about the reorganization of its offshore sales operation that will be run by Patrick Wachsberger. The latest to be caught in the shrapnel of merging two staffs is Helen Lee Kim, who’ll step down as Lionsgate Head of International.
SANTA MONICA, Calif., April 12, 2012 — Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), a leading diversified global entertainment company, announced today the reorganization of its international feature film operations under recently appointed Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairman Patrick Wachsberger, completing a key element of the integration of Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment following Lionsgate’s January 2012 acquisition of Summit.
The new team will be led by a talented group of executives from within the Lionsgate and Summit ranks under the direction of Wachsberger and will continue to service existing distribution partners with films from both the Lionsgate and Summit labels as well as third party films.
“Backed by a tremendous pipeline of films, we believe that this team of entrepreneurial executives is superbly qualified to lead the Lionsgate and Summit brands for years to come in an international marketplace rich with opportunity,” said Wachsberger. “This team blends diverse strengths from both companies, and we believe that it reflects the enormous potential that can be achieved by our combined operations going forward.”
The new international team reflects new leadership in three areas – International Sales, International Marketing & Publicity and International Distribution. Wachsberger will lead the newly constituted international sales team, handling select territories himself, joined on a worldwide basis by Executive Vice President International Sales Anne-Marie Ross and Senior Vice President International Sales Crystal Bourbeau, as well as Executive Vice President Wendy Reeds, who also heads up sales for the recently launched Celestial Tiger Entertainment (CTE) venture in Asia.
Ross has an 11-year tenure in international sales for Lionsgate and has been instrumental in the international sales and launches of some of Lionsgate’s most successful films, including THE HUNGER GAMES and the SAW franchise. She oversees feature film sales for several key European territories as well as Latin America and Japan.
Bourbeau has worked for Lionsgate International since 2007, managing territories in Asia and Eastern Europe, including the fast-growing Russian market. Her responsibilities have also been expanded to include additional European territories such as Spain. Reeds relocated to Hong Kong last year where she serves as Executive Vice President, Content and Distribution, for Celestial Tiger Entertainment, Lionsgate’s venture with the Saban Capital Group and Astro’s Celestial Pictures. Reeds spearheads all of CTE’s content licensing activities worldwide as well as the sales and distribution of Lionsgate’s new film and TV releases and library content in Southeast Asia and China.
The restructured international marketing and publicity operations will be overseen by Executive Vice President International Marketing and Publicity Jill Jones and her team. Lionsgate’s International filmed entertainment marketing group will work closely with distribution entities around the globe to support the release of Lionsgate, Summit, and third party feature films.
Jones previously served for four years as Senior Vice President, International Marketing and Publicity, for Summit Entertainment. Prior to that, she was Senior Vice President of Corporate and International Publicity for DDA Public Relations and had a six-year stint as Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, for Alliance Atlantis Entertainment.
Executive Vice President of International Distribution Brad Kembel and his team will oversee international distribution operations for the division. Kembel has been a senior international distribution executive for Summit for the past 20 years, overseeing worldwide distribution of theatrical, home entertainment and television content as well as supervising sales support, collections, royalties, and rights administration activities. Prior to his tenure with Summit, Kembel held international distribution positions at Sovereign Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Films.
Lionsgate’s veteran outgoing head of international, Helen Lee Kim, has decided to leave the Company later this year. She will continue to represent Lionsgate at the upcoming Cannes Film Market and will assist in the transition of her duties to the new team.