The 15th Annual Heart of Show Business Luncheon took place on
Thursday, January 11th at the Skirball Cultural Center.
President, Worldwide Distribution
Every year, Variety of Southern California honors an individual for his or her commitment to the causes and mission of Variety the Children’s Charity and the children we serve, as well as his/her position in the entertainment community.
The 2016 recipient of the Variety Heart of Show Business Award is Rory Bruer, President, Worldwide Distribution for Sony Pictures. Bruer is the consummate Sony Pictures Entertainment employee: he has spent his entire career in the motion picture industry at Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures, and Sony Pictures Releasing.
He began as a studio mail boy at Columbia Pictures in 1977 and, a year later, he was given the opportunity to take on several training positions for his launch into distribution.
In 1980, the company transferred Bruer to New Orleans where he occupied various roles, including New Orleans Sales Representative. In 1983, he returned to Los Angeles to serve as Los Angeles Sales Manager, a position he held until 1986 when he transitioned to TriStar Western Division District Manager.
In 1994, his role as TriStar Western Division Manager was merged into Sony Pictures Releasing Western Division Manager. He held that post until 2000 when he was promoted to Executive Vice President, General Sales Manager for Sony Pictures Releasing.
The next step in his career would come in 2002 when Bruer would be elevated to President, Domestic Distribution SPR. His first film in that capacity was the worldwide blockbuster Spider-Man™. Bruer stated that the opening day of Spider-Man was “the best day in his professional career.” Spider-Man set a new Columbia Pictures box office record, one it held until the release of Spider-Man™ 3 in 2007. In 2008, he was promoted to his current role.
Since he began overseeing domestic distribution in 2002, Bruer has orchestrated the release of some of the studio’s biggest hits, including Spider-Man 1, 2 & 3, The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2, the four most recent James Bond adventures (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre), The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, Sausage Party, Hotel Transylvania 1 and 2, 21 and 22 Jump Street, The Equalizer, Heaven Is for Real, Grown Ups 1 and 2, This Is the End, Men in Black 3, Captain Phillips, American Hustle, 2012, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network, The Smurfs, The Karate Kid, District 9, Salt, Hancock, Men in Black II, Hitch, and countless others. He is currently working on the distribution planning of such highly anticipated films as Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Dark Tower, Passengers, and Jumanji.
Bruer has been active in charity and philanthropic work his entire career, partnering with a number of organizations such as Variety – the Children’s Charity of Southern California. In January of 2005, he was named President of the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation. Two years later, he became Chairman. Bruer actively supports many other charities, including STEP, for which he serves as Chairman, and Habitat for Humanity.
Vice President of Film,
Carmike Cinemas Inc.
The 2015 recipient of the Variety Heart of Show Business Award was John Lundin. Lundin’s movie career path is well-traveled. He has been in distribution and exhibition, back and forth, for more than four decades, living all over the nation. He has been vice president of film for Carmike Cinemas since 2010.
Lundin grew up in Chicago but has several ties to Wisconsin. He spent many summer days at the cottages of both sets of his grandparents on Lake Delavan in Walworth County. He earned a degree in history and political science at Hillsdale College in the city of that name. He put off his plan of going to law school for at least a semester because he needed a job. He moved back in with his parents. But then opportunity came knocking – in a most delightful way, like pixie dust falling from the sky.
Lundin was at the wedding of a classmate’s sister and struck up a conversation about golf with a man named Pat Halloran. Lundin impressed Halloran as a smart young man. Not long after, Halloran – district manager for Disney – contacted him about coming aboard as a salesman.
To date, Lundin has spent 13 years in distribution and 29 in exhibition.
Since taking that first movie distribution job in 1972, Lundin has lived in Cleveland, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Dallas, Charlotte, Atlanta and now Columbus, GA. That makes him a nation-trotter, and his list of countries visited goes far beyond that to being a globetrotter – in fact, make that a mega-globetrotter.
His favorite city has been Paris. His favorite country is China, and his favorite single place has been the Taj Mahal. “The awesome structure, the monument of love that Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan gave to the world, stands as a testimony of his intense love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.”
Intense love is exactly what Lundin has for the film industry – and for travel to this landmark in Agra, India, and everywhere in-between.
The 2014 recipient of the Variety Heart of Show Business Award was Ted Cooper. Ted Cooper spent his entire career in the motion picture industry.
Starting as an assistant theatre manager in Philadelphia for General Cinema in 1976, Cooper has distributed film for MGM, Twentieth Century Fox, Columbia Pictures and Paramount Pictures in Philadelphia, Chicago, New York and the Boston markets. Coopers true passion is Film Buying where he broke his teeth with Fox Theatres in Reading, Pennsylvania then with United Artists Theatres in New York, Atlanta and Dallas.
Cooper joined Regal during the merger of Regal, United Artists and Edwards Theatres in 2002 and now resides in Knoxville Tennessee working as Senior VP Head Film Buyer. Ted has managed the consolidation of Edwards Theatres, United Artists Theatres, Hoyts Cinemas, Consolidates Theatres, Eastern Federal Cinemas, Signature Theatres, and Hollywood Theatres along with several independent exhibitors and now oversees 7600 screens in the United States.
In addition to serving as President for Variety of Eastern Tennessee, Ted was the President and now Chairman for the Will Rogers Foundation.