Yet Mr. Goldstine isn't breaking a sweat as he sits down for a
mid-afternoon interview in his corner office on Universal's Burbank
lot. If anything, he's excited for change. Until this summer, he'd
spent his entire career in Hollywood with Sony Pictures, where he
worked for 20 years -- most recently as senior exec VP-creative
advertising. His new role finds him working alongside Marketing
Co-President Michael Moses and reporting to studio chairman Adam
Fogelson, not to mention the occasional meeting with NBC Universal
CEO Steve Burke.
"It's a little bit like drinking from a fire hydrant," Mr.
Goldstine says candidly of his first few weeks on the job. "But I'm
learning about what plans have been made and where to adjust when I
Mr. Goldstine is a life-long movie buff with a penchant for
photography, dual hobbies that serve him well for editing trailers
and selecting key art for posters and advertising. His next hobby?
Finding ways to make Universal's hefty marketing budget --
according to Kantar, it spent $461 million on measured media last
year -- work even harder.
Ad Age : You're joining Universal after two
decades in creative advertising at Sony Pictures. What lessons from
your old job are you able to apply to this role?
Mr. Goldstine: I used to put copy all over our
trailers, but the language of these things has changed. Having
spent a year delving deeper into the broader marketing department,
I learned that movie marketing today really combines sociology,
creativity and really communicating with your culture. All good
marketing is a blend between the science and the art.
Ad Age : What does that merger of science and
art mean to you in 2011, when social media dictates so much of how
consumers get their messaging about entertainment?
Mr. Goldstine: Everything about how we
communicate is changing. We don't read one review anymore. We go to
Rotten Tomatoes to find a score. We have a stream of networks over
Twitter. We're embedded in Facebook. But ultimately what drives us
hasn't changed. We still need to figure out these themes and
elements that speak to people -- things people relate to and
Ad Age : How has social media impacted your
media strategy? TV viewing is at an all-time high, yet media
multi-tasking makes it important to be in different places at once.
Will we see significant spending shifts one way or the other in
Mr. Goldstine: No. But we're applying
thoughtful analysis in exploring new media. Everybody was writing
off cable, then MTV just had its highest-rated telecast ever with
the VMAs. Everybody wants to be part of the conversation of a big
event, whether it's MTV or the Super Bowl. We need more big events
in movies -- like how "Harry Potter" was a worldwide cultural event
We're in an experimental phase of figuring out how to test these
things -- what percentage should be in traditional venues and what
should be in new media spaces? We better begin to think about how
movie going is the greatest thing on Earth, and how to keep it
alive and thriving in a distracting world.
Ad Age : Movie marketing usually starts years
in advance of a film's release, often at the point of green light.
How far out are you looking at Universal's releases?
Mr. Goldstine: I'm working on "Snow White &
The Huntsman" for next summer right now. We're just talking about
plans to reinvent the myth of Snow White. It's both incredibly
classic and really dynamic and new. For me it's a big opportunity
to work on a franchise movie and have a unified point-of -view that
connects everything. And I'm also reading scripts for summer 2013.
We're finalizing plans for "The Lorax" in February 2012, with Chris
Meledandri [founder of Illumination Entertainment, Universal's
Ad Age : Also next summer is "Battleship,"
which is on track to become one of Universal's most expensive
movies ever. The first trailer was just released -- what else can
Mr. Goldstine: "Battleship" is a big, exciting
film for Universal, the kind of tentpole film that I've loved
working on in the past. I've gotten to see a lot of what is in the
works for the film, and I'm looking forward to becoming even more
involved in the campaign. But it's not as expensive as you might
think. It's about 33% less than [Disney's] "John Carter of Mars."
[It's] a lot less than other movies I've worked on at Sony.
Ad Age : Box office this summer was up in total
revenues but down in terms of attendance. How will you reinforce
the value of the movie-going experience when consumers have so many
Mr. Goldstine: The thing I think about is , "Is
something theater-worthy?" When more people are streaming movies,
it forces you to ask yourself, "What is unique?" You have to have a
notion of uniqueness and specialness, and the movies in the middle
have really suffered -- the been-there-done-that movies. But the
ones with cinematic spectacle did pull people to theaters, so that
puts upon us an urgency to really think about being authentic.
Ad Age : NBCU has really increased its
cross-promotional efforts after the Comcast merger. How will
Universal continue to benefit from this synergy?
Mr. Goldstine:"Hop" was a phenomenal example of
what this company has been able to do using the breadth of its
shows and the strength of the organization. We at Sony -- which
didn't have a broadcast network or a cable station -- were jealous
in the extreme. It becomes a corporate advantage to work
successfully together like that .
Ad Age : So many movies these days are sequels
or adaptations or co-productions with brand partners like Hasbro.
How do you look for fresh ideas as a movie marketer?
Mr. Goldstine: A lot of the marketing comes
from the original DNA of a movie. So the decision to green-light a
movie is a belief in the narrative power. In conversations I've had
with my boss, I'm encouraged by how many great stories there still
are. Branded entertainment gives you a leg up in marketing, but
it's still based on fresh ideas. And I think you'll be surprised by
"Ted," the movie we're doing with Seth MacFarlane [of "Family
Guy]." It's an exciting time to be at Universal. New people and new
ideas mean we can tackle a tricky time for the movie business due
to the profit models in home video and home entertainment. You have
to innovate to solve those problems, and we're in a period that
FAVORITE UNIVERSAL MOVIE:
"Fast Times At Ridgemont High" was a truly formative experience. I
think I can still recite almost every line to this day.
HOW I EVALUATE A MOVIE
The Clockwork Orange Test. If my eyes are glued open and I have to
stare at it for the rest of the day, can I tolerate it?
~ ~ ~
CORRECTION: An earlier
version of this story misidentified Josh Goldstine's previous role
at Sony Pictures, and incorrectly referred to Universal chairman
Adam Fogelson as a co-chairman. Also, Illumination Entertainment
founder Chris Meledandri's name was misspelled.