Partner Laurence Mark
New York University, 70 Washington Square S, New York, NY 10003
Gary Kalkin (1950 - January 6, 1995) was a top marketing executive at the Walt Disney Studios for 10 years who guided the campaigns for such blockbusters as "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin" and "The Lion King."
As senior vice president of domestic marketing for Buena Vista Pictures Marketing, Kalkin supervised promotion, advertising and publicity campaigns for Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures as well as Disney. Kalkin also played a strategic and creative role in promoting Disney's Broadway stage version of "Beauty and the Beast."
Jeffrey Katzenberg, former chairman of Walt Disney studios, said that Kalkin was not only the marketing force behind Disney's animated hits, but that he also guided the campaigns for such non-animated successes as "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," "Good Morning, Vietnam" and "Pretty Woman." Despite his illness, Kalkin helped supervise the marketing of the Tim Allen comedy "The Santa Clause," which emerged as one of the most successful films of 1994.
A mentor to younger executives at Disney and other studios, Kalkin was a low-keyed, unflamboyant and blunt-spoken executive whose management style was unusual in Hollywood in that he delegated considerable authority to his juniors and personally worked on films that were either difficult to market or personal favorites.
He successfully pressed reluctant Disney executives to release such films as "The Joy Luck Club" and "Green Card" gradually, in order to build audience momentum. Until then, Disney had traditionally released its movies nationally on a single day.
For "Beauty and the Beast," Kalkin's strategy was to show incomplete scenes from the film to moviegoers and critics and to show the incomplete film at the New York Film Festival, a risky move that proved successful because it created intense interest from an audience that had traditionally ignored animation. He also shaped the highly successful campaign for "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," a difficult film to market because of its blend of animation and live action.
Kalkin was born in Brooklyn, and was graduated from Brooklyn College. He earned a master's degree in cinema studies at New York University.
His first job in the movie business, in the 1970's, was as a press agent in the New York offices of United Artists. He then went into business on his own, handling "Saturday Night Fever" and other movies. Kalkin moved to Los Angeles in 1978 to handle the publicity for "Grease," one of the highest-grossing films of the 70's, and he worked on such films as "American Gigolo," "Staying Alive" and "Nine to Five."
Before joining the Disney studios in 1985 as vice president of publicity, Kalkin was the vice president in charge of West Coast operations for M/S Billings Publicity, handling such clients as John Travolta, Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese.
He died on January 6, 1995, at his home in Los Angeles. He was 44. The cause was AIDS, said his companion, Laurence "Larry" Mark, a film producer. Mark was a prominent film producer in Hollywood (As Good As It Gets, Dreamgirls, Jerry Maguire, Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion). In Kalkin's memorial quilt, Mark wrote: Old friend, Best friend, My hero, Thanks for 23 years, Love always, Larry. In October 1995, Laurence Mark established the Gary Kalkin Memorial Fellowship Endowment Fund at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.