Paul Serwitz has been hired by Landmark Theatres Owner/Chairman Charles S. Cohen to be President and Chief Operating Officer of the country’s largest prestige film theater chain, with 51 theaters and 251 screens in 27 markets. His appointment follows on the heels of the surprise exit of longtime Landmark head Ted Mundorff, who resigned October 24. Cohen Media Group acquired the chain from Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner last December.
Serwitz joins Landmark after spending the last 17 years as Vice President of Film for Regal Entertainment Group, the national theater circuit whose brands include Regal Cinemas, Edwards Theatres and United Artists Theatres. For the better part of a decade, his role included oversight of Regal’s national art and specialized program, growing that segment of the business to nearly $200M. Prior to his 25 years in total at Regal, Serwitz worked for Toronto-based Cineplex Odeon in Washington D.C. and originally was in Operations and Film with Neighborhood Entertainment Group in Richmond, VA.
I got ahead of this one with enough time to ask Serwitz about some of the issues facing Landmark and other prestige theater chains. Where does he see the growth potential for Landmark?
“CMG acquired Landmark to grow and improve the circuit,” Serwitz told Deadline. “The hope is its resources can facilitate growth through new theater development and investment to upgrade and enhance existing theaters. This, combined with improved performance and continued pursuit of best in class, can provide additional growth for Landmark.”
What has to be done to keep these kinds of theaters viable in the digital age?
“While theaters will always remain the primary out-of-home social and entertainment experience, continuing to enhance and upgrade theater facilities and amenities, along with evolving programming efforts, will be the keys to keeping the theatrical experience viable in the quickly evolving digital world,” Serwitz told Deadline. “While the film will always be the primary draw, expanding what Landmark already does and finding new ways to engage movie-going audiences will be an important part of competing with the digital curve. Ultimately, offering ways to engage, great movie-going environments and great films by great filmmakers will keep this theatrical landscape alive and well.”
As for the mutual attraction between Cohen and Serwitz that led to this move, Serwitz said in a statement that “I have long admired the unique space Landmark occupies in the exhibition and theatrical landscape. They are a trailblazer in the cinema experience. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to join Landmark and help expand the company’s vision and reach.”
Added Cohen: “Paul Serwitz has vast experience in all aspects of film exhibition and acquisition, in both local markets and on the national front. He is highly respected and has cultivated solid relationships throughout the film industry – all of which make him the perfect choice to lead Landmark Theatres into the future.”
This move was being watched closely by independent film executives who have found rough footing in launching prestige fare with the influx of subscription streaming services by content generating studios and tech companies giving consumers a plethora of things to watch without leaving the house. Landmark’s The Landmark in Los Angeles and The Landmark at 57th Street have long been go-to venues for film premieres.