Tang Media Partners, backed by China’s social media giant Tencent, has hired veteran film industry executive Rob Friedman to run its newly formed entertainment division. The move is the latest by the Los Angeles company to become a global show business player.
Tang, founded by former Bear Stearns Asia head Donald Tang in 2015, said Tuesday that Friedman, most recently co-chair of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, was named chairman and chief executive of TMP Entertainment, overseeing film and TV assets including IM Global and newly acquired Open Road Films.
Friedman’s arrival comes just a day after Tang sealed a deal to buy “Spotlight” distributor Open Road Films from its previous co-owners, theater chains AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment, for an undisclosed sum.
Also, in a dramatic twist Monday, IM Global founder Stuart Ford was pushed out of the independent sales and distribution firm over what a person close to the situation said was a difference in opinion over the creative direction of the company. IM Global is known for backing movies, including Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge.”
Tom Ortenberg, the CEO of Open Road Films, will remain with the company, reporting to Friedman.
Friedman, who starts his new job immediately, said that Tang is well positioned to become a formidable entertainment company because it now owns a domestic distributor in Open Road and an established foreign sales agent in IM Global.
TMP Entertainment plans to release roughly eight mid-sized films a year, plus two larger movies with franchise ambitions that cost close to $100 million to produce, a strategy similar to the one embraced by Friedman’s onetime home, Summit Entertainment.
“This gives me a leg up,” Friedman said of Tang’s acquisitions. “Now it’s about combining the two cultures, coming up with a strategy for both and moving the ball forward.”
Friedman has had experience building an entertainment company from the ground up. Before he joined Lionsgate, he was co-chair of Summit Entertainment, the studio behind movies such as the “Twilight” saga and “The Hurt Locker.” Lionsgate bought Summit in 2012, and Friedman continued in a similar role at the combined company, overseeing Lionsgate’s film business. He left Lionsgate in 2016.
Before Summit, Friedman was vice chairman and later chief operating officer at Paramount Pictures. He started his film business career at Warner Bros.