Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Movie Maker - Robert Mitchell Vice-President Marketing, Buena Vista International, UK

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Movie Maker - Robert Mitchell Vice-President Marketing, Buena Vista International, UK

Article excerpt

In the hushed corridors of Buena Vista's London HQ there's a live counter for each of its films on release, showing staff the cumulative takings. At the time of writing, Starsky & Hutch has taken an impressive pounds 12.5m, while Kill Bill: Vol. 2 is on the pounds 6.3m mark, two weeks after release.

'If films are doing badly we quietly whip the counters away,' laughs Robert Mitchell, 43, the company's most senior film marketer in the UK.

He is measured purely on box-office success, whether the movies are family-oriented animations under the core Disney brand (such as Finding Nemo), Buena Vista comedies (Starsky & Hutch) or from the harder Miramax affiliate (Kill Bill).

Although not a classic product marketing organisation, Buena Vista International (BVI) is among the top 50 UK advertisers. It spent pounds 27m last year - on a par with Marks & Spencer and Woolworths. Mitchell's job includes PR, and he likes to reel off a list of national newspaper editors he sees as 'mates'. He is particularly close to News International titles, where he can virtually ensure celebrity-style coverage in The Times, News of the World and The Sun.

Clearly most of the current movies are doing fine, because Mitchell is in jovial mood, cracking jokes about his beloved Everton and gossiping about Uma Thurman and David Carradine, with whom he has just been out for dinner.

Dressed in his trademark jeans and a denim shirt, Mitchell breezes into his office, which resembles a teenager's bedroom. It is adorned with memorabilia - including a spoof Wonderbra ad for Toy Story 2 entitled 'Hello Toys!' - and a framed Paul Gascoigne Everton shirt.

More than 20 years' experience in movie marketing has given Mitchell enormous self-confidence and clout within highly political Disney. His 'tell it like it is' style feels refreshingly out of place. 'Robert's not a corporate man at all,' agrees a former colleague. 'It could be limiting for him. That said, the Disney management values his creativity and understanding of film.'

After a few meetings with Mitchell, one quickly notices his instinct early on in the production process for whether films will succeed in the UK, but he stops short of claiming an influence over what is made by Disney. …

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