Player Profile: Exec at Columbia TriStar hopes for hit in new post

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Josh Goldstine quickly walks across his office and brings back a print ad magazine layout of Columbia TriStar Motion Pictures Group's coming summer movie, "Ali," starring Will Smith.

Pointing to the soft-focus photo of Mr. Smith in the act of throwing a punch, he says, "He's half Malcolm X and half Mahatma Ghandi, with a little of the Beatles thrown in. When I see that transformation, and I see a director like ["Ali" director] Michael Mann, I get excited."

A SONY LIFER

A hit would undoubtedly be exciting for Mr. Goldstine, the 32-year-old newly appointed senior exec VP-marketing at Columbia TriStar. He reports to Jeff Blake, president-worldwide marketing and distribution at the studio's parent, Sony Pictures Entertainment. The executive change was made when Bob Levin, president of worldwide marketing for Columbia TriStar, left in December. Columbia TriStar is part of the $250 million media account put in review by Sony.

Mr. Goldstine, a Harvard grad born and raised in Berkley, Calif., started as an intern in 1991, and his entire professional life has been at Sony. Most recently, he was senior VP-creative marketing, working on movies including "Men in Black," "Air Force One," "Jerry Maguire," "As Good as It Gets" and "Hollow Man."

Marc Shmuger, vice chairman of Universal Pictures Group, trained Mr. Goldstine from the onset, when Mr. Shmuger was the head of creative advertising at Sony. "He's smart, creative and tireless in chasing down the exact creative message," said Mr. Shmuger of Mr. Goldstine. "Jeff Blake made a strategically brilliant choice."

But he adds, "There will be some growing pains, especially in the first year. That's to be expected. He will not be spared that."

Movie marketing doesn't appeal to everyone, and it didn't initially appeal to Mr. Goldstine, who first envisioned more glamorous positions at the studio. "When I got into it, I thought, I'll get into marketing, learn the business a little bit, and then get into production," he said. "But I got seduced."

CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE

But like all good marketing executives, Mr. Goldstine knows the limitations of movie marketing. "At the end of the day, great movies will always connect with people," he said. "Marketing will always maximize the upside of a movie or minimize its downside."

Some critics, however, claim move marketing isn't always true to the film-that studios sell one type of movie but actually deliver another. For example, a studio might sell a film as a thriller catering mostly to men, even though it has a softer, more thoughtful side that appeals to women.

"I don't think of it as lying or not lying," said Mr. Goldstine. "What is the truth of a movie? `Terms of Endearment' was a movie that had cancer in it, but also has great pathos and humor."

He added, "There are certain movies that are flashy and easy to market, but are really like candy, they are a little empty when you see them. And then there are those movies that are really wonderful, but don't have easy ways to market them. You have an obligation to find and unearth in the movie its `playability."'

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