As we reported, post January's merger with Summit, Lionsgate has reorganized its international team in the wake of two departing executives. As expected, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairman Patrick Wachsberger will lead the international group at the Cannes market.
The group combines execs from both Lionsgate and Summit. The key is to reassure buyers and sellers at Cannes that the team is in place and ready to do business as before. Last month, the company laid off 80 staff (about 12%) out of a total 675 employees (Lionsgate had 500, Summit 175) and more are expected to leave.
With Summit's high-powered foreign exec David Garrett, who worked under Wachsberger for two decades, unexpectedly exiting the scene after the merger, and Lionsgate's international president Helen Lee-Kim, who came into the company with departing Lionsgate/Mandate exec Joe Drake, also prepared to leave after Cannes (both have their own entrepreneurial reasons for moving on), a Lionsgate foreign overhaul was required. No one knows this area better than Wachsberger, who is working with a deep bench. But losing both of these key execs was not in the merger game plan.
"Backed by a tremendous pipeline of films, we believe that this team of entrepreneurial executives is superbly qualified to lead the Lionsgate and Summit brands for years to come in an international marketplace rich with opportunity," said Wachsberger. "This team blends diverse strengths from both companies, and we believe that it reflects the enormous potential that can be achieved by our combined operations going forward."
The new international team reflects new leadership in three areas –International Sales, International Marketing & Publicity and International Distribution. Wachsberger will lead the newly constituted international sales team, handling select territories himself, joined on a worldwide basis by Executive Vice President International Sales Anne-Marie Ross and Senior Vice President International Sales Crystal Bourbeau, as well as Executive Vice President Wendy Reeds, who also heads up sales for the recently launched Celestial Tiger Entertainment (CTE) venture in Asia.
Ross has an 11-year tenure in international sales for Lionsgate and has been instrumental in the international sales and launches of some of Lionsgate's most successful films, including THE HUNGER GAMES and the SAW franchise. She oversees feature film sales for several key European territories as well as Latin America and Japan.
Bourbeau has worked for Lionsgate International since 2007, managing territories in Asia and Eastern Europe, including the fast-growing Russian market. Her responsibilities have also been expanded to include additional European territories such as Spain. Reeds relocated to Hong Kong last year where she serves as Executive Vice President, Content and Distribution, for Celestial Tiger Entertainment, Lionsgate's venture with the Saban Capital Group and Astro's Celestial Pictures. Reeds spearheads all of CTE's content licensing activities worldwide as well as the sales and distribution of Lionsgate's new film and TV releases and library content in Southeast Asia and China.
The restructured international marketing and publicity operations will be overseen by Executive Vice President International Marketing and Publicity Jill Jones and her team. Lionsgate's International filmed entertainment marketing group will work closely with distribution entities around the globe to support the release of Lionsgate, Summit, and third party feature films.
Jones previously served for four years as Senior Vice President, International Marketing and Publicity, for Summit Entertainment. Prior to that, she was Senior Vice President of Corporate and International Publicity for DDA Public Relations and had a six-year stint as Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, for Alliance Atlantis Entertainment.
Executive Vice President of International Distribution Brad Kembel and his team will oversee international distribution operations for the division. Kembel has been a senior international distribution executive for Summit for the past 20 years, overseeing worldwide distribution of theatrical, home entertainment and television content as well as supervising sales support, collections, royalties, and rights administration activities. Prior to his tenure with Summit, Kembel held international distribution positions at Sovereign Pictures and Cineplex Odeon Films.