Miramax top exec may advance to head of NatGeo Films
Former Miramax Films leader Daniel Battsek is rumored to be in talks with National Geographic to become head of the company’s boutique production house, National Geographic Films, according to the Los Angeles Times
Pending Battsek’s arrival, he would succeed Adam Leipzig, who will leave the Washington, D.C.-based company when his contract expires in mid-March to become an independent producer.
National Geographic said that Battsek’s deal is still being finalized and is expected to close shortly. National Geographic Entertainment President David Beal confirmed that Leipzig would be leaving his position as president of the film company and would serve as executive producer of two of its current projects: “The Way Back,” and the HBO miniseries “Undaunted Courage.”
Battsek, who was hired to run Miramax four years ago after the departure of its founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein, saw success with major breakout films like “The Queen,” “Doubt” and “No Country for Old Men,” as well as other motion pictures like “The Boys Are Back,” “Extract,” and “Cheri,” which were not as successful.
National Geographic Films, a subsidiary of the non-profit organization National Geographic Society, is responsible for “March of The Penguins,” a hugely successful documentary about penguins in Antarctica. Other releases include the documentaries “Arctic Tale” and “God Grew Tired of Us.”
A National Geographic
representative speaking on background reiterated for WinmoEdge that the company has yet to announce Battsek’s appointment
, and hasn’t confirmed anything just yet.
Our source said that any and all advertising outreach depends entirely on the project and the product line. She said that for National Geographic Films, for example, the company just released a motion picture last fall called “Amreeka,” and does distribution for it as well.
“National Geographic films are cinema ventures and distribute films just like any other studio would – for that film there was an advertising budget,” she said. “It’s usually determined budget-by-budget, project-by-project.”
The spokesperson said that National Geographic also has an aggressive social media program with “all the usual suspects” like YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Boing Boing, etc.
“We also have a cross-promotional strategy so that – and we don’t do this for every book and every film – but sometimes there are some big topics that we grab hold of and we take those subjects cross-platform,” she said. “At the same time we have a television program airing, we have the National Geographic magazine covering it and digital media will cover it and we’ll have a book, an exhibition, a game, so that we have many digital, print and television platforms that give us an opportunity to get the message out.”
Our source said that when, for example, National Geographic airs a film about Herod’s lost tomb, National Geographic Magazine publishes an article, the company creates a mobile application and the subject is ramped up on the National Geographic Web site.
“All these things push to each other, and there’s very much a huge ad buy opportunity, but there are some benefits to cross-promotion,” she said.
The representative said that National Geographic casts a very broad net when reaching out to consumers. She said that the demographic depends on where they get their media from, and added that National Geographic’s content appeals to small children from the ages of two-years-old – who read the Kids Magazine and the Little Kids Magazine – to adults who read the National Geographic consumer publication.
“(The magazine) is the heart and soul of National Geographic,” she said. “The idea is to create content, and all of this content fuels our mission to support research in the field and exploration in the field which in turn creates content which we cover.”
She said that National Geographic covers many different areas of science, exploration and culture, which then comes back to the company in the form of content, which is then re-distributed through various forms of National Geographic media channels.
“We cover other things besides our own research, but it’s a tremendous asset to us – we’re a mission-driven non-profit organization, and as such, we tend not to advertise heavily, but it depends on the project,” she said. “There’s no sweeping statement you could make for the whole brand, there’s no one thing that we do, but as a non-profit organization, we have an obligation and it is our driving force and it has been since our founding in 1888 that we fund research and exploration in the field and publish it.”
To our sources’ knowledge, National Geographic does not have any long-term agency relationships for the brand overall, citing that bringing in new agencies for projects is a strategic decision. She said that marketing and advertising initiatives are strategic decisions that are again, determined on a project-by-project basis.
“It’s about execution, everything is sort of looked at through the prism of the National Geographic brand, but consumer ads are bought specifically for projects,” she said.
According to The List database, Atlanta-based Blue Sky has handled some of National Geographic’s creative efforts since 2003, Atlanta-based IQ Interactive has handled some of its interactive efforts since 2005 and San Francisco-based Mediasmith Inc. has also handled some of its interactive efforts since 2005.
The Nielsen Company reported that National Geographic Society spent about $3 million on advertising in 2008. About $800,000 was spent on cable television ads, about $600,000 was spent on spot television ads and about $500,000 was spent on national magazine ads.
Once Battsek has officially been added to the leadership role at National Geographic Films, interested agencies should reach out to discuss any upcoming motion picture projects that you can become a part of.
National Geographic Society
1145 17th Street, Northwest
Washington, DC 20036
Head, National Geographic Films
[not yet confirmed]
President & Chief Executive Officer, National Geographic Society