Lionsgate senior executive Tim Palen has been promoted to Chief Brand Officer and President of Worldwide Marketing, overseeing a team of 40 employees spread out among media, creative advertising, digital media, promotions, licensing and merchandising and location-based entertainment across all labels. As Chief Brand Officer, Palen will report to Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer and will continue to report to Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairs Patrick Wachsberger and Rob Friedman (a great marketer himself).
He will be involved in all company branding decisions and be responsible for developing, extending and marketing the company’s individual brands, franchises and corporate branding initiatives.
As Lionsgate emphasizes growing the company’s brands worldwide, one of the areas it is initiating is location-based entertainment. During the past year, the company has put in place a number of programs to extend the Hunger Games brand: It’s launching The Hunger Games Exhibition nationwide tour in Times Square next month; the Hunger Games StageAround live theatrical experience is debuting in England next summer; and Hunger Games-branded attractions that form a centerpiece of the Motiongate theme park is opening in Dubai next fall. That park also will include a Step Up live stage event.
Sounds familiar, no? It like a page out of the Disney brand-building handbook. The Walt Disney Company has been incredibly successful at brand builds over time — for instance, besides being known for quality animation, within a few short years, Disney cornered the little girls market in merchandising and licensing with their series of princess films. It also has taken some of its most important film properties and brought them to Broadway. Very smart. MGM built its name on its bevy of stars, the lion and decades of 007. One way to brand build, of course, is through successful franchises.
Palen, who led the marketing strategy for the four Hunger Games films — a $2.3 billion franchise — said the company is working on a three-year plan to do just that. They certainly have the depth of experience. Other franchises Palen and his team have worked on have been the films from Tyler Perry (who is a brand unto himself with 17 films launched over eight years) and the Saw horror pics (seven in total), the Divergent quartet (Insurgent, Allegiant), three Expendables and five in the Twilight series.
“There’s a remarkable number of IPs that we have launched in that time,” Palen told Deadline. “I am fortunate in that I do have the best team on the planet and some have been with me as long as 10 years.” Palen joined the company in 2002.
Palen’s team is now turning its sights on Summit’s follow-up caper sequel Now You See Me 2 , the rest of the Divergent series, Haim Saban’s Power Rangers (which could be huge) as well as The Odyssey from Hunger Games’ Nina Jacobson and Francis Lawrence. It also has Gods Of Egypt with Gerard Butler playing the God of Darkness in a fantasy actioner that takes place in mythical Egypt.
“We also just launched the Lionsgate Premiere division,” noted Palen. It’s a new specialty film distribution label announced in April to release films from both the Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment labels to extend the reach of those properties to new audiences and platforms. It will release about 15 films annually in theaters and across digital platforms. The first feature out of the gate will be Dragon Blade, starring Jackie Chan, Adrien Brody and John Cusack, followed by the offbeat Sundance film Cooties, starring Rainn Wilson and Elijah Wood and written by Saw franchise co-creator Leigh Whannell.
Marketing and Research SVP Jean McDowell will handle marketing, with distribution to be run by Adam Sorensen, who currently manages Western Sales.
In addition, Palen worked the marketing campaigns for Oscar winners such as Crash, which won the 2006 Best Picture Academy Award; Monster’s Ball, which earned a historic Best Actress Oscar for Halle Berry in 2002; and Precious, which won three Academy Awards in 2009.