UPDATED WITH STATEMENT FROM STX CHAIRMAN-CEO ROBERT SIMONDS: Oren Aviv is leaving STX. The news comes in the wake of STX’s first animated feature UglyDolls, which cost $100M in combined production cost and P&A. It was one of the films under Aviv’s watch at the studio.
The former 20th Century Fox marketing vet was one of the first hires at STX in 2014 in the role of President and Chief Film Content Officer. Over the last two years though Aviv didn’t have a corporate title and was essentially tasked with overseeing UglyDolls.
“Oren is transitioning from his full-time duties at STX and I’m happy to say that he will remain on as a strategic consultant for us as we begin our push into the next phase of the UglyDolls franchise with our animated series at Hulu,” said Robert Simonds, Chairman and CEO of STX. “We thank Oren for his many contributions to STX since the company’s inception and look forward to his continued advice and counsel in this new capacity. We wish him nothing but success in his future endeavors, and I personally want to thank him for his many years of friendship and support.”
UglyDolls, which starred a number of recording artists like Kelly Clarkson, Pitbull and Nick Jonas, and also boasted 100 global promotional partners with companies such as WalMart, McDonald’s and Hardees/Carl’s Jr — and when a film like that goes south with that much brand support on board, advertisers aren’t pleased. The pic is getting a release in China on Aug. 8. China’s Alibaba is a co-producer and co-financier on the film.
Recent executive exits at STX include STX Chief Operating Officer Tom McGrath back in May and Chief Brand Officer Patti Rockenwagner in March.
STX has aimed to bill itself as an efficiently run studio, that makes major motion pictures at controlled production costs and P&A spends, however, there hasn’t been much that has worked. Since the studio’s first release The Gift in 2015, they’ve only had two films to cross $100M, that being Bad Moms, and this year’s The Upside. However the latter film was a distribution deal with Lantern, who took over the Weinstein Co. film, and that company relished the upside on the Kevin Hart-Bryan Cranston movie making an estimated $50M after all ancillaries per analysts. Recently, STX’s $8M+ acquisition Poms was expected to stoke 50+ audiences, but fizzled with $13.6M. Mark Wahlberg action film Mile 22 and Melissa McCarthy’s Happytime Murders were also pricey titles that failed to work for STX last summer.
After looking to be listed on the Hong Kong exchange, STX opted to let its application lapse last October due to rocky market conditions there.
Aviv has a wide range of experience in both marketing and production at not only 20th Century Fox, but Disney and STX Films, as well as working at Grey Advertising and the ABC Network. Disney’s National Treasure film franchise was based on Aviv’s original idea, for which he received Story By and Executive Producer credits. Aviv has the singular distinction of not only marketing his own studio film as President of Marketing at Disney, but of greenlighting his own film’s sequel as President of Production. Aviv’s marketing campaigns at Disney include Pirates of the Caribbean, Narnia, National Treasure, Sixth Sense, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc. among several others. As CMO at 20th Century Fox, Aviv created the campaigns for Rise of the Planet of the Apes and X-Men: First Class; the animated hits Rio, The Croods and Ice Age: Continental Drift; Ridley Scott’s sci-fi epic Prometheus; The Wolverine starring Hugh Jackman; the Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy comedy hit The Heat; and Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning Life of Pi.
As head of production at Disney, Aviv was responsible for the Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds hit The Proposal; Tim Burton’s billion-dollar-grossing Alice in Wonderland; Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End; Amy Adams musical comedy Enchanted; plus launching The Hannah Montana and High School Musical feature films.
Variety first reported the news about Aviv’s exit.