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