STX Entertainment, the new studio that started only a year ago, has just landed Yahoo’s Kathy Savitt who will take the reins as President, Digital beginning next month. Savitt, who currently serves as the chief marketing officer and head of media at Yahoo, Inc, will be responsible for STX’s global digital content strategy.
It also doesn’t hurt to have an experienced executive known by Wall Street in a top post at the company. STX Entertainment has, since the beginning, wanted to become another media conglomerate like Viacom, Time-Warner with plans to eventually go public like the big guys. It certainly seems to be putting the building blocks in place to do so.
The company has already established a multi-year output deal with Showtime Networks to air their slate of films (an agreement that takes them through 2019), has a deal with Universal to handle its home video releases, and negotiated separately with the nation’s exhibitors to carry their films. The agreement with the exhibs ensured the company a certain amount of screens each year. The same strategy — and unprecedented partnerships — could be implemented on the digital side.
With Savitt in a top executive post (and let’s hear it for the hiring of yet another female exec at the company), STX is in great shape to start making other digital deals and creating new content. While at Yahoo, Savitt led the company’s global brand marketing, product and performance marketing, audience engagement strategies, as well as original editorial and video content across market-leading properties such as Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Sports.
She also led the editorial launch of over a dozen new digital magazines in addition to Yahoo’s original video programming, including the innovative Yahoo Live Nation partnership bringing the world’s best live concerts daily to Yahoo; the revival of fan favorite Community; Paul Feig’s Other Space and Mike Tolin’s Sin City Saints.
Savitt will report to CEO Robert Simonds with a dotted line report to STX President Sophie Watts. STX Entertainment is, in fact, led by Simonds, co-founded by TPG Capital, a leading private investment firm with $65 billion under management. Watts was said to be instrumental in bringing Savitt into the company. “Our goal was to find someone who was the equivalent of (studio chairman) Adam Fogelson in the digital space and we found her in Kathy,” Simonds told Deadline.
“Our company mantra has been go East and go digital,” said Watts. “This was an incredibly important step for us in going digital, and we couldn’t be more proud than to be doing this with Kathy.” Savitt will now be in the top tier circle of strategists for STX as the company expands their offices in Los Angeles and opens offices in Hong Kong and Silicon Valley.
Bill McGlashan, Managing Partner of TPG Growth, said in a statement: “The addition of Kathy to STX is another example of this team’s innovative approach to building a studio consistent with the world we live in today, and their focus on attracting the best management talent in the world to build STX Entertainment.”
Other investors in STX include financial partner Hony Capital, a leading Chinese private-equity firm; and business interests of Gigi Pritzker and Beau Wrigley. In April of this year, STX entered into a partnership with Huayi Brothers Media Corp. China’s largest privately held film firm — a three-year deal that begins next year whereas the Chinese company will be hand-in-hand on 12-to-15-pictures annually.
It recently released their first film — a thriller The Gift — which had a strong marketing campaign and carefully-chosen release date. In its fifth week of release it is still in the Top Ten chart and has grossed roughly $41M domestically with another couple of million picked up abroad. When STX launched a year ago, they said they wanted to produce “studio-caliber” films in the $20M to $60M range. The Gift, while budgeted under that range (it was Blumhouse), was a quality film.
Savitt, who has more than 30 years of marketing, media, e-commerce, and executive leadership experience, was CEO of Lockerz, a company she founded in 2009 with the mission of revolutionizing the way Generation Z discovers and consumes content and products. Previously, she was Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. And, prior to that, she served as Vice President of Strategic Communications, Content and Entertainment Initiatives for Amazon.com.
Savitt will certainly have a lot of product to work with. STX has writer-director Gary Ross’ Free State Of Jones starring Matthew McConaughey; a remake of the 2010 Oscar Best Foreign Language Film The Secret In Their Eyes with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts; the horror film The Boy from William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside), an untitled science fiction romancer starring Asa Butterfield and Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland), Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino.
In addition, the new studio has a number of projects in development including Russ And Roger Go Beyond, a story about Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert hooking up to make Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls; a Jackie Chan starrer with Martin Campbell attached to direct from a book called The Chinaman, and an R-rated puppet/live-action film with the Jim Henson Co., to name a few.