Sanford Panitch, Sony’s newly hired President of International Film & Television, is making a big push into international and film and TV production for the Culver City-based studio by making two key hires — one from his old stomping ground at Fox and another from Dimension Films.
Diego Suarez has been hired as SVP International TV Production and Matthew Stein as VP International Film Production at Sony Pictures Entertainment to develop new material for audiences here and abroad. The move is significant for the studio in the international arena and, as Panitch learned at Fox, international production can be a very lucrative one for an entertainment company.
The former Fox executive joined SPE in April to build a division that generates both film and TV product that would include local-language co-productions and English-language series. Smartly and frugally produced, it is a highly profitable business.
Suarez and Stein are Panitch’s first big hires since he came aboard. They are tasked with acquiring and developing local and international film and TV content with key international production partners.
Suarez comes to SPE from Fox21 Television Studios, where he was SVP Creative Affairs, focusing on cable programming development with a strong international angle. Projects Suarez brought in to the studio include The Queen Of The South (based on the Spanish bestseller), which will bow on USA in January 2016; and Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown, based on the 1988 hit film from Pedro Almodovar. Added to that is Hamelin, written by award-winning Spanish filmmaker Paco Plaza.
Prior to his tenure at Fox21, Suarez served stints at Fox International Channels, Italy; at Boca Boca Producciones, one of Spain’s leading television production companies; and at Cuatrocabezas (Eyeworks), a multimedia company in the Spanish-speaking world.
Stein joins SPE after most recently serving as independent producer on feature film projects. But prior to that, he was EVP Production at Dimension Films, where he oversaw production and development for the company. In that role, he helped to supervise more than 30 films including the Scream, Spy Kids, Halloween and Piranha franchises.
“Diego Suarez is for me the definition of the modern international television executive with his wide-ranging experience at both the studio level and in the international channel business,” Panitch said in making the announcement. “We see tremendous opportunity in producing both international and local language television content. In Matt Stein, we get a resourceful film executive with a well-trained background in overseeing smartly budgeted film franchises. He will be an asset in further igniting our local production activities and in finding internationally oriented films for the world.”
Panitch, who worked closely with Tom Rothman — the former Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman/CEO and now chairman of SPE’s Motion Picture Group — when they both worked at Fox, reports to Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton.