eOne’s Victor Rego expands theatrical remit nationally

The SVP of marketing and distribution for Canada will now oversee all theatrical activities for both Les Films Seville and eOne.
Victor Rego

It’s been a busy year for eOne, as the Toronto-based company restructures its film and TV businesses into a single consolidated studio structure.

Last week, it announced the full acquisition of The Mark Gordon Company, naming its eponymous founder as eOne’s president and chief content officer of film, television and digital. With Gordon taking the reins on all eOne content creation, it was announced that longtime eOne TV head John Morayniss, as well as Mark Gordon’s head of TV, Nick Pepper, would both exit.

And this week, eOne reveals another step in its evolution: the combination of eOne and Les Films Seville’s marketing and theatrical distribution operations, led by Victor Rego.

Rego previously served as SVP of marketing and distribution at eOne’s Quebec distribution arm, Les Films Seville, while Mark Slone, who exited his role in October, was his counterpart for the rest of Canada.

In his new role as SVP, marketing and distribution, Canada, for eOne and Les Films Seville, Rego oversees all theatrical activities across the country, including sales, marketing, promotions and public relations. A founding member of Les Films Seville, Rego joined eOne in 2008, and over the course of his career has led campaigns for films like the Twilight franchise and, more recently, De Pere en Flic 2 and Bon Cop Bad Cop 2, two of the top-grossing films of 2017.

Bringing the Toronto and Montreal teams under one leader is meant to provide a more holistic approach to eOne’s marketing efforts, said Rego, who noted that, “the challenge with having the two offices is it feels like separate mandates sometimes.”

One of the reasons for Les Films Seville’s success in Quebec, he told Playback Daily, is that it markets to each region’s specific audiences. “The same way Quebec City is not like Montreal, Vancouver is not like Toronto. So the first thing I’m bringing to the team is to look at [each market] from the ground up,” he said.

He gives the example of Lea Pool’s 2015 drama La Passion d’Augustine, about a nun who gives music lessons to young women. The film was marketed to over-40 year-olds – a demo largely ignored by studio releases, he said. The film surpassed Les Films Seville’s expectations, and ended up taking a whopping $1.7 million at the Quebec box office, with 60% of its audience residing outside Montreal.

“Outside of the Quebec context, that’s the kind of film that you would think would have a hard time [in theatres],” he said. “You would think that would go on an alternative platform, but the theatrical experience was there for that demo.”

In 2018, eOne will release 26 films in Canada, including Xavier Dolan’s The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, Kim Nguyen’s Eye on Juliet, as well as Carlos and Jason Sanchez’s TIFF Top 10 pick Allure and the Vinay Virmani and Steve Galluccio-written romcom Little Italy.

Getting Canadians out to these films will require a multi-pronged and targeted approach, said Rego, adding that while digital and social campaigns are becoming more effective, TV, out-of-home and even radio still work too (depending on the market).

The interesting thing about today’s advertising landscape, he added, is that consumers don’t mind an ad that doubles as interesting content, and as such, they can be engaged on a deeper level. On the other hand, a social media campaign that creates high engagement may not translate to ticket sales, because either the audience was too niche, or the hype was for the campaign itself, not the project.

Rego said the company is spending “comparable amounts” on its marketing campaigns as it did in the past, but being more discerning on which platforms it targets in each market. “It’s about being selective in the media spend and understanding what works best for the target demo in each local market for each of our releases instead of the more homogeneous [marketing] approach of the U.S. studios,” he said.

Despite the generally gloomy outlook often painted for the theatrical market as a whole, Rego said, in his new role, he’s excited “to prove that the theatrical experience is not in any kind of doubt.”

While it’s no secret the exhibition market faces challenges from streaming platforms and changing consumer behaviours, Rego believes cinema-going is part of our cultural DNA. When audiences are convinced that there is an experience to be had in a theatre, he said, they show up. “That is proven market by market around the world all the time.”

Moreover, he said, upswings at local box offices are usually attributed to local content. He pointed to Italy, which in 2016, saw its box office revenues increase nearly 4%, largely off the strength of Italian films like Quo Vado. Similarly, when France saw a 3.6% increase in theatre attendance in 2016, one of the top-three highest-grossing films was a local production.

“We’re living in a very homogenized world, where we’re forgetting that there are cultural differences – different appetites across different markets,” he said.

“The reality is that there is a market here. And it is a specific audience. But you have to use the narrative that will get them out.”