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Feingold Outlines Sony, MGM Relationship in Home Entertainment

15 Apr, 2005 By: Kurt Indvik

It's business as usual for the home entertainment marketing and distribution of both Sony Pictures and MGM titles, but in a new era for the newly acquired MGM, now a privately held company.

In an interview with Benjamin Feingold, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE), it's clear the consortium that bought MGM (lead by Sony) intends that the assets of that studio will be carefully managed in a joint effort.

SPHE – with an expanded staff that will include a number of former MGM Home Entertainment executives — will manage the day-to-day worldwide sales, marketing and distribution of both Sony Pictures and MGM titles. However, a core team remaining with the new MGM entity will work closely with Sony on the handling of MGM properties across all distribution channels to ensure they are managed to their fullest potential for the consortium of owners.

“In many ways the relationship will be similar as with New Line and Warner, or Miramax and Disney,” said Feingold. “We will be assuming worldwide distribution, sales and marketing, and working with the new MGM closely to set goals and marketing plans.”

Blake Thomas, who has been named EVP of home entertainment distribution for the new MGM, will be working with executives at SPHE on the handling of MGM assets in home entertainment. Other executives within the new MGM with channel focus responsibilities include Jim Packer as EVP of television distribution; Bruce Tuchman, EVP of MGM networks; and Travis Rutherford as EVP of consumer products and location-based entertainment.

While MGM retains a core team to help oversee the handling of that studio's assets across the spectrum of entertainment channels, SPHE is going to be doing the heavy lifting for a much-expanded home entertainment library, and that's going to require a beefed up effort. Those efforts will continue to be led by EVPs Lexine Wong in marketing and Marshall Forster in sales.

Feingold said SPHE has been focused on integration since the deal was signed last fall, “And we're in the process of completing the hiring of additional staff, most of which will come from MGM, because we believe in the continuity of knowledge in order to maximize performance.”

The future of any role for David Bishop, head of the home video unit under the old MGM, is still not clear. The MGM corporate communications office was unable to comment on the status of Bishop, or any other details regarding Blake Thomas and his new role by press time. Feingold acknowledged Bishop's success at MGM, and added that while he could not comment on any future role for Bishop, “The more knowledge we have, the better ability we have to hit our performance targets.”

While much has been made of MGM's successful marketing efforts of its stellar library of 4,000 films and more than 10,000 TV episodes, SPE itself has some 3,500 films in its library (including such classics as Lawrence of Arabia and Bridge On the River Kwai) and about 35,000 TV episodes, which it also has been successful in marketing.

MGM has already issued pink slips for almost 200 this week, with more expected in the coming weeks. No details were available as to what divisions were affected by the job cuts.

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