'Potter' wizardry earns promotion for WB PR people

LOS ANGELES: Harry Potter is working some promotional magic inside

Warner Bros. Pictures' marketing department, hinting that the studio is

confident of a blockbuster franchise from the little wizard.



Dawn Taubin, the Warner Bros. marketing EVP in charge of the studio's

Potter campaign, in addition to other releases, has been promoted to

president of domestic marketing, overseeing all publicity and promotions

for US features.



Her primary focus in the new role is on fourth-quarter releases such as

Ocean's Eleven, and possible Oscar contender Charlotte Gray, a WWII

drama starring Cate Blanchett.



Brad Ball, who formerly held the post of president of domestic

marketing, has been promoted to the newly created role of EVP of

domestic corporate marketing. The move is part of the studio's

"overarching cross-company marketing and brand enhancement initiatives,"

according to a release.



The new title puts him in charge of corporate promotions worldwide.



Ball's new duties also include developing third-party promotional

partners across company divisions for franchises such as Harry Potter,

The Matrix, upcoming live-action film Scooby-Doo, and TV hit

Smallville.



Both Taubin and Ball will report to Alan Horn, Warner Bros. president

and COO.



Ball will also function as the liaison between the studio and parent

company AOL Time Warner, and all other AOL Time Warner divisions,

showing the studio's intention to enhance its promotional relationship

with AOL Time Warner.



The promotions quickly followed a flurry of positive reviews on the

Harry Potter flick. However, trade paper Daily Variety criticized the

Warner Bros. marketing department earlier this summer as over-burdened

and inefficient, as it attempted to market a record 25 films slated for

release in 2001.



An anonymous internal e-mail from Warner Bros.' marketing department was

also sent to media outlets in July, specifically criticizing Ball and

Taubin for focusing too much on Harry Potter at the expense of other

releases, such as Steven Spielberg's AI: Artificial Intelligence.



If Potter is as successful as early reports indicate (8,000 prints have

been ordered to play on the nation's 37,000 movie screens - more than

double the average), it could vindicate Warner Bros.' focus on that

property as a profitable long-term investment. Indeed, that franchise

focus seems to be high on Ball's agenda.



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