Executive Honorees

By Thorne, Will; Levy, Danielle et al. | Variety, March 28, 2017 | Go to article overview

Executive Honorees


Thorne, Will, Levy, Danielle, Riley, Jenelle, Variety


CHERYL BOONE ISAACS

Pioneer of the Year

As the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Boone Isaacs knows about giving out awards. But at CinemaCon, she will be on the receiving end, having being named Pioneer of the Year. The award is presented by the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneer Foundation, the official charity of domestic theatrical distributors and exhibitors, which makes it extra special to Isaacs.

"What makes this especially meaningful is when I realized the names of the giants of our industry who are past recipients," she says. "Sherry Lansing, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Bob Benjamin & Arthur Krim - people I truly admire for what they have accomplished and for what they have done for those in need, are just a few of the legends whom the foundation has named as pioneers. Knowing that I'm in their company, and receiving an award named after an entertainment icon and humanitarian like Will Rogers leaves me humbled."

Among the foundation's programs are the Pioneers Assistance Fund, which provides assistance to veterans of the film community; Brave Beginnings, which delivers vital neonatal equipment; and the Will Rogers Institute, a national health program.

"The Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneer Foundation is dedicated to taking care of our family members," adds Boone Isaacs. "Its work, its mission, and what it means to all of us for so many years cannot be overstated."

MARK CHRISTIANSEN

Passepartout Award

Christiansen grew up pretty much surrounded by the film business. As a boy he lived next to two drive-in theaters that his father managed. Fast forward a few years and his first job in the industry was as a booker for Columbia Pictures. He has since risen to become head of operations at DreamWorks, before transitioning to his current role of executive vice president of worldwide operations after Paramount acquired DreamWorks' live-action division in late 2005. When that happened, Christiansen says he was immediately at an advantage because of his advanced knowledge of the digital cinema business.

"Paramount had not gone very deeply into the digital cinema business, and at DreamWorks we had looked at digital cinema from the very first days, so I was pretty up to date on everything and I ended running point for Paramount on all of the virtual print fee deals that were being done with exhibitors all over the world," he says. "That's how I ended up in international."

That makes him the perfect candidate to receive the Passepartout Award, which is given to an industry executive "who demonstrates dedication and commitment to the international marketplace." Christiansen describes himself as "the one who takes those American movies and gets them ready for release around the world." Over the years, he says, the international markets in which he works have become increasingly important to studios, and he certainly doesn't see the trend stopping anytime soon.

"The United States is a mature market, it's still the biggest and the strongest market, but the rest of the world has become hugely important, so what you're seeing is the international territories release before U.S. dates, which was pretty much unheard of until the last couple years."

BYRON BERKLEY

NATO Marquee Award

Byron Berkley knows cinema. The Texas owner of Foothills Entertainment has been a member of the National Assn. of Theater Owners for almost 30 years, though his origins in the industry precede his participation. As a high school student in San Francisco, Berkley worked in theaters. He graduated onto management positions for an affiliate of United Artists Theater before working in marketing for Dr Pepper Co. …

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