EXCLUSIVE UPDATE, 10:58 AM: Megan Colligan, Paramount Pictures worldwide president of marketing and distribution, is stepping down from her post, and the exit was anything but amicable. Colligan had been with the studio since 2006 and rose up the ranks during the past regime of Brad Grey and Rob Moore to her current job. A new regime with Jim Gianopulos came in this past summer, and he has been amassing his own team. We heard that she just sent a note to her staff this morning talking about her resignation while her lawyer sent a letter off to Viacom brass.
“Megan had no choice but to leave after enduring a pattern of gender bias and discrimination,” said Bryan Freedman, lawyer for Colligan. “The disparate treatment of women by Paramount is evidenced when you unfold the truth of the exodus of high-level women in recent months. At least four other women have left and we believe that there are more to follow.”
One was LeeAnne Stables, who is exiting after 12 years at the studio; she was President of Worldwide Marketing Partnerships and Licensing. Another women were Rona Cosgrove, who exited from overseeing biz affairs which is now overseen by Steve Plum.
We know that the studio did hire Mary Daily to replace outgoing Nic Crawley under this new regime as president of international theatrical marketing. They also hired Mireille Soria to run the animation unit.
In addition to other grievances, we heard also that Colligan is claiming that responsibilities were taken away from her and given to other execs (mostly men) one at at time over the past few months, so it was basically seen by Collligan’s side as “a constructive termination.”
Colligan was previously an investment banker who came into the entertainment industry. Prior to Paramount, she worked at Fox Searchlight in publicity. She joined the studio 11 years ago and began working for its specialty unit Paramount Vantage, where she served as exec of marketing.
Paramount went from having a stellar run with the $1 billion worldwide success of Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well as the tough-to-market but worldwide success of the lengthy The Wolf of Wall Street and the critically acclaimed Nebraska, but in the past two years they have not had success at the box office.
She has been working on films a few months since Gianopulos’ arrival when it seemed that he might clean house, but she stayed and worked on the upcoming films. Her boss had started from distribution and is considered as something of a pro.
Their last big hit was Arrival which was a sleeper success, but since that, it’s been one calamity after other with films like Allied, Office Christmas Party, Monster Trucks, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, Ghost in the Shell, Baywatch, and Transformers: The Last Knight.
Daddy’s Home 2 opens this weekend and it is tracking well.
The story of her exit was first reported by our sister publication Variety.
Here is the letter Colligan sent to staff:
To my incredible team,
I’m writing to let you know that today I am leaving Paramount. I’m indebted to you for your hard work, inspired talents and true professionalism.
You are a team in every sense of the word. You never give up and never give in, n o matter how great the challenge. You are true collaborators who respect one another, but are never afraid to challenge one another.
You will work yourselves tirelessly to get the job done, but will always find a way to make one another laugh.
You made me to proud to come to work every single day and I will miss you all very much.
Thank you for everything and I look forward to what’s next.
During the heyday of the Grey-Moore regime (which ultimately became so risk-adverse that there was little product to release), Colligan worked on several pictures going back to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Shutter Island, Iron Man 2, Paranormal Activity and before that on Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood and Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Babel.