Oren Aviv named chief marketing officer for 20th Century Fox
He will also hold the title of president of theatrical marketing along with Fox veteran Tony Sella, who takes on the additional role of chief creative officer.
Many in Hollywood will be watching how newcomer Aviv will work as a team with Sella, who has been at Fox for 19 years. Sella was most recently co-president of marketing with Pam Levine, who left the studio in December.
"If we do it the right way, we will be living in a fluid and conjoining universe together," Aviv said in an interview. "How we exactly want to get there, we'll have to figure out."
By hiring Aviv, who starts his new job Feb. 7, Fox is looking to bring more innovation to its movie campaigns in hopes of boosting ticket sales. The News Corps.-owned studio has had a difficult run at the domestic box office lately with such underperformers as "Gulliver's Travels," "Love and Other Drugs" and "Marmaduke."
Aviv said he didn't have plans for any immediate changes in Fox's approach to selling movies, but that he had already had extensive discussions about the rapidly changing entertainment landscape with his new bosses, Fox chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman.
"Movies are in the eye of the storm. It's maybe the most challenging time in our industry's history," he said. "The audience is very different than it was a year ago or five, and we can't stand pat on the tried and true."
Aviv has been unemployed for the last year after being ousted by Disney's then-new chairman Rich Ross in a housecleaning of the studio's former regime. He had served as president of marketing at Disney from 2000 to 2006, but switched jobs to become president of production until early 2010. Aviv had a decidedly mixed run picking and overseeing movies for the studio under former studio chief Dick Cook.
Among his hits were "The Proposal," "Enchanted" and "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," a sequel to the 2004 film on which he shared story credit. He also oversaw the flops "G-Force," "Surrogates" and "Old Dogs."
Ironically, Aviv's biggest success, "Alice in Wonderland," was released two months after his departure.
Some in Hollywood will undoubtedly see Aviv's appointment to a marketing post as a step back, especially because he is running Fox's department with a partner after overseeing Disney marketing solo. But Aviv said he wasn't concerned about that possible perception.
"It's called the movie business, not the production business or marketing business, and I take that to heart," he said.
In his new job, Aviv will have an opportunity to measure his chops against his former employer and its new marketing president, MT Carney, on June 24, when the Fox release "Rise of the Apes," a new prequel to "Planet of the Apes," opens against Disney's Pixar-animated sequel "Cars 2."
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Oren Aviv. Credit: 20th Century Fox