EXCLUSIVE: Rob Friedman, the former co-chairman of Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group, former vice chair of Paramount Pictures and a former longtime exec at Warner Bros., is taking the reins of TMP Entertainment — the combined company Tang Media Partners has formed with IM Global, Open Road Films and IM Global TV. He starts in the post immediately.
Last week, TMP took hold of Open Road Films from AMC and Regal after months of negotiations as part of a larger overall expansion plan. Tom Ortenberg — who we previously reported will remain as CEO of Open Road — now will report to Friedman, who will report to TMP CEO Donald Tang.
The hiring of Friedman as chairman/CEO comes after IM Global founder and CEO Stuart Ford abruptly left the company late Friday after a clash with its board and parent company over its strategic direction.
Tang repeatedly has said that its goal is to create, develop, finance, produce, market and distribute movies in the U.S., China, and internationally. Friedman, who signed a long-term contract, will be responsible for all the TMP global assets outside of China.
Friedman will oversee all IM Global staff and projects as well as those at Open Road. He has a strong business marketing mind and will strategize on the best ways to bring the companies together and capitalize on the IPs they create across all formats.
Tang and Friedman began talking to each other about possibly working together a year ago. “I thought the assets he was trying to bring together was an interesting mix and posed a great opportunity to build a company with,” Friedman told Deadline. “He is a very positive energy and is constantly looking at the future which is a great partner to share this journey with.”
Friedman, who had been talked about for various jobs around town — including for the Paramount and Legendary chairs — before taking the reins at TMP, is an executive with about 40 years of experience. He knows financing, acquisitions, production, marketing and distribution and has helped guide the strategy for some of Hollywood’s biggest franchises, including The Hunger Games and Twilight films. He also helped build up (along with Patrick Wachsberger) production and distribution company Summit Entertainment. He was co-chair and CEO at Summit before it was acquired by Lionsgate in 2012.
“Essentially, we are building a global content company in today’s world which is changing rapidly as we all know,” Friedman told Deadline. “And it’s much different than when Patrick and I did it with Summit. The digital and social explosion across the world has not only changed the way we create and produce content but touches on the way we view them as well.”
At Lionsgate, he guided the releases with his respected background in marketing and was a relied-upon executive helping to map out overall strategy for the company. He helped build the release slate that included two Best Picture Oscar nominations last year in Hacksaw Ridge and La La Land. In fact, he guided Lionsgate to a total of 26 Oscar nominations last year. He was also always on the quarterly calls with Wall Street analysts each quarter for Lionsgate.
One insider noted that Tang “was impressed with Friedman’s credibility, reputation and management style.”
Tang Media Partners was founded two years ago. The company is backed by shareholders and partners that includes Tencent Holdings. IM Global Television is a joint venture with Tencent. TMP is headquartered in Century City and has offices in China.