Oren Aviv, the former Disney chief of production and marketing, is in discussions with Fox Filmed Entertainment to head up marketing in a newly expanded position at the studio, TheWrap has learned.
Individuals close to the discussions confirmed to TheWrap that Fox co-chairmen Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos have been talking seriously to Aviv, who was ousted from the head of production job at Disney earlier this year in a shake-up by Rich Ross.
Longtime marketing co-president Pam Levine announced this week that she was leaving after four years of doing her job, running the department with her partner Tony Sella, from New York.
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The decision on Aviv is not a done deal, however. The studio chiefs will be meeting with other candidates, at a time when several senior movie marketing experts are on the market.
Other executives believed to be in the mix for the Fox position are former Sony marketing president Valerie Van Galder, former Paramount and then MGM marketing chief Gerry Rich and former DreamWorks marketing guru Terry Press.
Van Galder is likely to be a strong contender as well, as she was hired by Rothman in the 1990s to launch the publicity department at Fox Searchlight.
But Aviv also has history with this team, having worked with Sella at Disney, where the latter previously headed creative.
A decision is expected early in the new year. A Fox spokesman had no comment for this story, and Aviv had left for the holiday and did not respond to an email.
Levine, who came out of the world of market research, was much beloved by studio higher-ups. But ultimately the strain of running such an important division from afar made little sense, according to knowledgeable insiders.
Her departure is an opportunity for the studio – criticized by some this year for focusing on remakes and franchises instead of taking more daring shots – to remake its approach to movie marketing.
The studio has not had its best year, after the historic success of “Avatar” in 2009. The movie’s latest big-budget film, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” was a major disappointment domestically, taking in just $48 million thus far, though it has done respectable business overseas. That film was marketed heavily to Christian audiences.
And the studio’s next film, “Gulliver’s Travels,” to be released on Christmas Day, is not expected to have a strong opening.
See Studio Scorecard: For Fox, a Hot Start to 2010 Goes South
Tony Sella, the creative force in Fox’s marketing arm, will remain and work closely with whomever is appointed to the new position.
Since his departure from Disney, Aviv has been focused on understanding the fundamental shifts going on in the entertainment landscape and is said to believe that the most important shifts are happening in marketing, with the rise of social media and fractured consumer attention spans.
Aviv had two years left on his Disney contract and has not been in a hurry to take a new position, but is believed to want to return to marketing.