Paramount consolidates operations in major reorganization


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Paramount Pictures has become the latest studio to consolidate many of its distribution operations to reflect the growing importance of international markets and new digital platforms through which people watch movies.

Under the new structure, unveiled Tuesday by studio chairman Brad Grey, DVD, digital and television licensing will be merged into a newly created umbrella division called Home Media Distribution. In addition, Paramount is relocating its international operations, currently headquartered in London, to Los Angeles, in order to work more closely with the rest of the studio.


Two veteran executives are leaving as part of the shift. Paramount Digital Entertainment president Tom Lesinski has been let go as the studio is disassembling his unit, which was formed in 2003 to take advantage of the emergence of new platforms. In addition, president of domestic distribution Jim Tharp, who joined the studio from DreamWorks in 2006, is retiring.

It also remains to be seen whether key executives in charge of foreign operations will remain with the studio as Paramount moves international operations to its Melrose Avenue lot in L.A. President of international Andrew Cripps has yet to decide whether he will make the move.

No job cuts are immediately planned as part of the reorganization, though some may occur as the television, DVD and digital distribution operations are merged, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The changes reflect the proliferation of new digital businesses like Netflix and iTunes and the growing prevalence of simultaneous ‘day and date’ releases around the world for tentpole movies like Paramount’s ‘Transformers.’ Consequently, studios’ businesses can no longer be neatly divided between divisions. Walt Disney Studios implemented a similar reorganization in late 2009.

‘This new structure will allow us to more effectively take advantage of worldwide opportunities, adjust to the changing marketplace and propel us forward on a unified, global basis,’ Grey said in a statement.

Paramount is also restructuring its marketing division, with former co-presidents of domestic marketing Josh Greenstein and Megan Colligan both expanding their roles. Greenstein was named chief marketing officer, overseeing marketing campaigns around the world and on all platforms. Colligan will now serve as president of domestic marketing and distribution. In addition to overseeing U.S. marketing campaign, she is also in charge of theatrical distribution.


Former executive vice president of sales Don Harris, who is taking Tharp’s job, will report to Colligan.

Dennis Maguire, who was previously president of worldwide home entertainment, will have a bigger role as president of worldwide home media distribution. His No. 2 will be Hal Richardson, formerly president of worldwide television distribution, who is now president of home media distribution. The new home media unit is in charge of all platforms for movies after they finish playing in theaters.

Paramount Digital Entertainment, meanwhile, will see its disparate businesses, including video games and original Web content, divided. The former will be overseen by executive vice president of worldwide marketing partnership LeeAnne Stables, while the latter will move under the purview of executive vice president of interactive entertainment Amy Powell. Both report to Colligan.

The changes were made in advance of Paramount parent company Viacom Inc.’s new fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.


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-- Ben Fritz