The Colors Behind The Pictures You See

Spotlight career in entertainment - Palette Magazine

Published on April 20th, 2014 | by Melody Cade

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Rory Bruer – President, Worldwide Distribution, Sony

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By Melody Cade –

Rory Bruer has been the President of Worldwide Distribution at Sony Pictures Releasing, a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. since December 2008. He is responsible for overseeing all of the studio’s releases including some of the most successful titles in Sony Pictures history: Spider-Man, 1,2 & 3, Amazing Spider-Man and currently releasing Amazing Spider-Man 2, The DaVinci Code, Angels & Demons, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and countless others. Mr. Bruer has been the distribution executive who has overseen the launch of more than 50 #1 hits since 2002. He has been with Sony and its related companies for more than 25 years. He has served in various positions for Columbia Pictures & TriStar Pictures which have now combined into Sony Pictures Releasing.

Q: What was the career you wanted right out of college?

A: Actually it started before college, it started in grade school. I’ve always, always wanted to be in the entertainment business. There was no other place I wanted to be, no other career.

Q: What was your first paying job in entertainment?

A: I was fortunate enough to find out that Columbia Pictures was moving locations in NY and opening a distribution office in Burbank and they needed support staff. They needed file clerks, mail clerks and that sort of thing. There were two jobs available, I interviewed and they gave me a choice. The file clerk position paid fifteen dollars more a week, but I thought, “I don’t want to get stuck in a file room all day and no one gets a chance to meet me.”, so I went with the job that paid less so I could meet people. I’m one of those guys who made it from the ground up. I started in the mailroom. I was one of those guys who got a new job every year, every two years until I made it to the point where I was president.

Q: How did you hear about the position?

A: It was through a friend who had heard this office was opening.

Q: What prompted you to get on the executive track?

A: I think it’s always important to know who you are to a certain degree. I knew math was never my forte, I knew rocket science wasn’t my thing. I’ve always been a guy who could sell things. I could coerce people to do things, the way I wanted things done. I was meant to be around people. I’ve always known I was a deal maker. It suits who I am.

Q: What does distribution mean for a major studio like Sony?

A: It’s a big business. Distribution is the ground floor for films to make money in the theater, paid tv, home entertainment and beyond as a part of our library. It also works to educate people about the films.

Q: What’s an average day for you?

A: I oversee worldwide theatrical distribution and the airlines. I also supervise several departments. I’m always involved with the dating of films, how they are distributed, theater marketing, what is the best release pattern for a particular film in a particular market, ect. It’s one of those jobs where each day is different and it’s never boring.

Q: How do you know what film does best in what market? Is it something you learn and get a vibe for as you work over the years or is there a formula?

A: I think it’s both, but I don’t think there’s an established formula. No one knows for certain, but there are things you do know and feel after years in the business. You do a lot of research in regards to it. You research other “like films”, what’s going on culturally, the economic aspects of a certain territory, politics, there’s a lot of thought put into the best way to distribute and market films. We look at the competition. We look at where we stand the best chance at leaving a mark and being successful.

Q: How valuable is networking?

A: I think networking is very important. I really do. Whenever you can network in person, it’s best. In a world of social networking, there are a lot of avenues, but there is a lot of noise in social networking. You get inundated with so much, so many people coming at you. In person is best, on the phone is second best. That human contact gives people a sense of who you are.

Q: How is diversity playing a role in the future of entertainment?

A: The world is changing everyday. Opportunities are coming along that weren’t there before. I think it’s advisable that in the future more people speak a second language.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you ever received in your career?

A: The best advice came to me when I was a young man graduating from high school. My best friend’s father told me, “Rory, every person has a story to tell, let them tell you their story. You don’t need to debate it. Use what you can and leave the rest behind.”. It’s true. What’s made me successful is that I believe in consensus and working as a team. I love embracing great ideas and working as a team. There are no dumb ideas. There are just ideas that don’t work for a particular project at a particular time. I love the idea of letting people speak their mind. Everyone has something to offer. Be willing to listen to it. Don’t make anyone feel foolish for sharing their opinion with you.

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