D. Barry Reardon, former longtime president of sales and distribution for Warner Bros., has died at age 92. The executive known as the “Dean of Distribution” among industry peers and filmmakers passed away on May 27 in Vero Beach, FL.
Reardon was head of theatrical distribution at Warner Bros. from 1978-99 and was known for breaking the mold in the film business ie. starting the summer before Memorial Day – Twister opened in mid-May 1996 before Tom Cruise’s Paramount tour, Mission Impossible – and successful dates during the first days of August, previously considered a dead zone. Among the films in the latter category were Clint Eastwood’s eventual Best Picture Oscar winner. Unforgivablein 1992, and hit Harrison Ford The fugitive in 1993. the late picture producer Arnold Kopelson told him LA Times that the meeting maneuver was “pure genius.”
Also before his departure from Warner Bros. in March 1999, Reardon had developed an internal marketing data system with fellow executives that was ahead of its time, tracking rivals’ trailers from the previous 10 years, their profits and box actor track data. office. and critics. This allowed executives to direct a film with a particular actor away from a critic who had taken issue with that actor. The data system also reduced production and marketing costs, as well as audience demos for all major motion picture studios.
During Reardon’s tenure as head of Warner Bros. Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher Batman films appeared during Reardon’s reign, grossing $1.25 billion worldwide through four films in addition to four Lethal weapon films, which grossed close to $1 billion worldwide. Reardon was also a great champion for Chariots of fire AND Driving Miss Daisy, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1981 and 1989, respectively, and were mainstays in their time.
Reardon not only mentored current distribution executives, including the President of Warner Bros. of Domestic Distribution Jeff Goldstein, but it was also the gold standard for some of the greats.
In 1999 Los Angeles Times profile in Reardon, the late Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone, a longtime friend of the executive, said: “Barry was a competitor who insisted on getting his own way. … The most important thing was that he did it in such a gentlemanly way that it could be really irritating.”
Tom Sherak, chairman of 20th Century Fox’s Domestic Film Group, said LA Times: “Barry changed the very way distribution is viewed as an art form in business today.”
Exclaimed Goldstein in an internal email to staff: “He was THE OG ‘Dean of Distribution’ whose many achievements are legendary. His leadership has inspired generations of entertainment leaders. The impact of his legacy is long-lasting. Warner Bros. is a better company because of his leadership. Our lives were enriched by his friendship.”
Reardon was born on March 8, 1931, to David and Anne Cotter Reardon in Hartford, CT. He graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, in 1953 with a bachelor’s degree in
economy. He worked for US Army Intelligence in Europe from 1953-36 and earned an MBA in economics from Trinity College after returning to the United States.
After his first job at United Technologies, Reardon worked for Litton Industries at its Eureka-Carlisle Division in Scranton, PA, until 1967. At the time, it was the world’s largest commercial stamp and seal printer and the second largest catalog in the United States. He was the paper buying agent they needed, so he met his wife Marsha, who worked for the paper supplier.
In 1967, Reardon began his career in the entertainment business. He joined Paramount Pictures in NYC as Associate VP Finance. He then moved into marketing and distribution as VP and Assistant to the President. In 1975, he joined General Cinema Corporation in Boston, responsible for film marketing and procurement. At the time General Cinema was the largest motion picture circuit in the US. He was recruited by Warner Bros. in 1978 and the family moved to Los Angeles. This turned out to be his “dream job”.
ShoWest, CinemaCon’s trade show predecessor, honored Reardon with the title of “Dean of Distribution.”
Reardon retired to Vero Beach, spending summers in Wilmington, VT. I first heard about Reardon in high school during the late 1980s, growing up in Southern Vermont: My mother came home one day to tell me that a major Hollywood executive from Warner Bros. was opening a cinema in the ski paradise near Dover. center that he owned for several years.
Reardon is survived by his wife of 57 years, Marsha, and his daughter Lisa.