Photograph by Jack Pierson

Photograph by Jack Pierson

Tim Palen, CMO of Lionsgate, prefers to conduct an interview at home. It is Friday, the day one of his movies opens. “The critics are mad at the film,” he says, subtly implying that the movie will be a hard sell. 

Tim’s place, built in 1919 by a US Army Colonel, is a Spanish colonial jewel with perfect proportions, clear circulation and sober hardwood furniture. As befits a Mexican hacienda, the house is cool, its interior shaded by a veranda crawling with Bougainvillea, dogs barking in the distance. Tim feels comfortable in this familiar environment - The Cobra, I learn later, is shy. Known to make decisions quickly and not one to take hostages, Tim is warm, welcoming - and unusually humble about his achievements. 

And yet, by all accounts, Tim is one of the catalysts of Lionsgate’s continuous growth at a critical time when film - once deemed “spectacle for the masses” - is becoming increasingly splintered into diverse audiences. During his eleven-year tenure, Lionsgate Entertainment has experienced both a redefining of its mission, and a recrudescence in its audience. Lionsgate’s films have earned more than 40 Academy Award nominations and 10 Oscar wins, and Palen’s campaigns have received dozens of Key Art awards and other honors. 

Tim Palen does not feel comfortable claiming ownership of the title auteur, yet he is one of the most hands-on marketing execs in the business, conceptualizing campaigns, writing copy and even taking the photos that are used in the print campaigns for the movies he markets. The decisive moment of whether a movie works or not depends on the skill and intelligence with which all these elements are put together. And where a director has ninety minutes to tell a story, Tim has two and a half minutes max to flirt and seduce an audience. 

“Tim is a born artist; every project he approaches is a canvas on which he displays his unique vision. Let’s put it this way, Tim would have done really well during the Renaissance.” - Sylvester Stallone

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Tim Palen