Tim Palen

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Tim Palen
Nationality American
Education University of Colorado & Art Center College of Design[1]
Known for Graphic design, Photography

Brand Genius Award – Adweek's Brand Genius
2012 Career Achievement

100 Most Creative People in Business
2011 Career Achievement

The 50 Smartest People in Hollywood
2007 Career Achievement

Movie Marketing Ninja Award – Behind the Camera Awards
2006 Career Achievement
Patron(s) Lions Gate Entertainment

Tim Palen is an American motion picture marketing executive and award-winning photographer. He is Lionsgate's Chief Brand Officer and President of Worldwide Marketing. His string of theatrical box office hits includes The Hunger Games, Lionsgate's top-grossing film of all time, taking in nearly $690 million at the global box office;[7] and The Expendables 2, which grossed close to $300 million worldwide.[8] Palen's innovative marketing strategy for The Hunger Games, which carefully balanced and coordinated a mix of traditional, digital and social promotion, contributed to its record-breaking success.[9][10] Palen has also left his imprint on huge film franchises: Producer Tyler Perry's first 13 films have grossed more than $670 million at the domestic box office, and the Saw series is the most popular horror franchise in history grossing more than $870 million at the worldwide box office for its seven installments.[11]

Palen has also overseen marketing for critically acclaimed hits including Crash, winner of the 2006 Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay,[12] Precious, winner of the 2009 Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay,[13] and Rabbit Hole, which earned Nicole Kidman a 2011 Academy Award nomination[14] for what is widely considered her strongest performance to date. With Palen at the helm of the marketing team, Lionsgate will have its highest grossing year ever at the domestic box office in 2012.

Palen has been widely recognized and honored for his creative and effective work. Most recently, he was awarded Adweek's 2012 Brand Genius Award for his work on The Hunger Games.[15] He has also been recognized in Fast Company's "100 Most Creative People in Business"[16] and Entertainment Weekly's "50 Smartest People in Hollywood".[17]


Palen joined Lionsgate in March 2002 as Vice President of Theatrical Marketing and achieved immediate success with the launch of the campaign for Monster's Ball, which went on to win a historic Academy Award for Halle Berry's performance in the film. During his tenure, Lionsgate has grown from a fiercely independent niche studio to a major force at the box office, establishing a distinctive profile for the company as a purveyor of exciting and provocative films. Besides The Hunger Games and The Expendables 2, Lionsgate’s other recent theatrical successes have included horror film The Possession, which opened No. 1 at the domestic box office,[18] and Madea's Witness Protection, which was the second highest grossing Tyler Perry film ever, taking in $65.7 million.[19]

Marketing campaign work[edit]

Tim Palen's poster art for The Hunger Games.

Tim Palen uses his own photography for various Lions Gate Entertainment film posters and advertising campaigns.[20] Palen's movie poster photography attempts "to boil it [the image] down to the essence of the film. It is all about finding simplicity, a singular iconic image, something that evokes emotion from the viewer."[21] Some of Palen's "most arresting" marketing campaigns have only been viewed by those attending Comic-Con International conventions and various youth-oriented websites, allowing these campaigns to "pass under the radar of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, which governs studio marketing material in the U.S."[22] In 2009, Palen's work was featured in The New Yorker.[23]

Saw II[edit]

Tim Palen conceived of using two severed fingers to make the Roman numeral II in the initial billboard campaign and the logo for Saw II. Bob Berney, Picturehouse president and a competitor of Lions Gate Entertainment, calls this image "a classic".[24]


While looking for a manner to market Hostel without using images of mangled body parts, Tim Palen visited the New York art studio of Australian photographer Mark Kessell. Kessell, a former medical physician, had a series of daguerreotypes entitled "Florilegium" (or "collection of floral images") in his studio; each piece this collection featured a "close-up [image] of a surgical instrument, so poetically rendered that it seems almost organic". Palen made a deal to use a photograph from the "Florilegium" series whose focus was a surgical clamp, an image that was used for the theatrical and print promotions of Hostel.[25]

Saw III[edit]

To promote the release of Saw III, the Lions Gate Entertainment marketing division — headed by Tim Palen — selected an image of the film's protagonist Jigsaw (portrayed by Tobin Bell) wearing a red cloak. Palen inquired from the poster printer "what we could do to get the deepest blood red", then asking if it was "possible to use actual blood" for the red pigment. After the printer agreed to attempting the requested process, Palen successfully approached Bell with the idea of using Bell's blood in the initial print run. Limited to 1000 copies printed, the promotional posters were sold directly to fans for $20 a piece. One copy of the poster, signed by the entire cast and crew of the film, was placed up for auction. All proceeds from these sales were donated to the Red Cross as part of the annual Saw Blood Drive.[26]

Hostel: Part II[edit]

Tim Palen wanted to launch the Hostel: Part II advertising campaign "with an image that would stand out amid the clutter of endless movie posters", so he purchased cuts of meat from five differing animals from a local butcher's shop and photographed close-up the uncooked meats in his kitchen. Settling on the boar meat, whose "veins of fat" resembled "the look of someone’s intestines", Palen had to provide proof to the Motion Picture Association of America that the meat was not human in origin before they would approve the image for mass release. Palen did so by mailing the M.P.A.A. a receipt from the butcher's shop he had procured the boar meat from.[22]

The campaign's next imagery was taken from a photography session Palen had done with the film's co-star Bijou Phillips. The final poster was a composite image of Phillips' naked body holding her own severed head. This image, due to its graphic nature, was specifically designed for foreign market and other specialty markets, such as the New York Comic Con where it debuted.[21][22]

In order to utilize the Phillips imagery for mass release, Palen superimposed the final Phillips composite over the boar's meat photo. This version, which only showed the shadowed portions of the Phillips image over the boar's meat, was displayed in theaters, "though only in multiplexes that weren’t playing G or PG movies."[22]

For the print advertising aspect of the campaign, Palen used a photograph he had taken of another of the film's co-stars, Heather Matarazzo. The photograph showed Matarazzo "hanging upside down, her face contorted, the veins in her neck bulging, a tiny rivulet of snot dripping from her nose." The M.P.A.A. approved this image for release in newspapers and other print media.[22]

While shooting publicity photographs in a "cheesy hotel" for Hostel: Part II, Palen convinced writer/director Eli Roth to pose nude for one photograph. The picture, entitled Eli Roth Has the Biggest Dick in Hollywood, shows Roth wearing a 24-inch-long prosthetic penis which was created by K.N.B. Effects at the request of Palen.[27]

Upcoming releases[edit]

Palen is also behind the theatrical posters for the upcoming Lionsgate titles Texas Chainsaw 3D, The Last Stand, Tyler Perry's The Marriage Counselor and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, all releasing in 2013[28][29]


Title Year Genre Publisher Length Notes
The Men of Warrior 2011 Fine art photography Insight Editions 128pp
The Men of Warrior gathers together Palen’s no-holds-barred shoot for the upcoming Lionsgate film Warrior, starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton as two brothers who face the fight of a lifetime in the high-stakes world of Mixed Martial Arts. In these pages, Hardy and Edgerton show off their hard-earned fighting bodies and bloodied upper lips, capturing the tough and dramatic world of Warrior in a series of iconic images, all of which are poster-worthy.[30] 
Guts 2007 Fine art photography Baby Tattoo Press 110pp First printing limited to 3,500 copies shrink-wrapped in a meat tray.
Collection of photographs from movie and event posters, production stills, outtakes, and location photos culled from Palen's work in and around the marketing of six horror films. Includes commentary by Eli Roth (Hostel, Hostel: Part II) and Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV), among others.[21][31] 
Tim Palen: Photographs From The Hunger Games 2015 Fine art photography Assouline 260pp
Photographed by Palen, the book includes portraits of The Hunger Games cast. [32] 


The Fahey/Klein Gallery, 2007[edit]

In late 2007, Tim Palen had a one-week fine art photography show at The Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles, CA. The show consisted of 25 photographs from Palen's then-forthcoming book Guts. In attendance at the opening were: Palen and gallery owner David Fahey, Saw producer Oren Koules, independent film producer Andrew Panay, Sylvester Stallone with his wife Jennifer Flavin, Debi Mazar with her husband Gabriele Corcos, and Donovan Leitch with his daughter.[33][34]

Lehmann Maupin Gallery, 2010[edit]

Tim Palen brought the women of Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls to life with eight 'Living Portraits' - shot on 35mm film and conceived of and directed by Palen himself. Displayed at New York City's prestigious Lehmann Maupin gallery on October 24–27, 2010, this project marked Palen's second time working with Janet Jackson, after directing the music video for her single "Nothing" from Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?.[35] Lionsgate also created an unprecedented online gallery experience to showcase this art work[36]


  1. ^ Burr, Paula. "Guts: Author Tim Palen Spills 'Em All...". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 17 December 2008. I studied advertising and journalism at the University of Colorado. I studied photography at the Art Center in Pasadena. 
  2. ^ "Brand Genius 2012: Tim Palen, Hunger Games Lionsgate's Palen talks branding a giant movie franchise to Adweek's Jim Cooper". Adweek. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People in Business 2011". Fast Company. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "The 50 Smartest People In Hollywood". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "Hamilton and Hollywood Life Behind The Camera Awards Picture". HQ Tim Palen Pictures. Celebrity Wonder. Retrieved 17 December 2008. 
  6. ^ Burr, Paula. "Guts: Author Tim Palen Spills 'Em All...". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 17 December 2008. I really enjoy Mark Kessell and Joel Peter Witkin. I have also always loved David LaChepelle. 
  7. ^ Box Office Mojo. "The Hunger Games". Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  8. ^ Box Office Mojo. The Expendables 2. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  9. ^ Barnes, Brooks. "How ‘Hunger Games’ Built Up Must-See Fever". New York Times. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  10. ^ Kaufman, Amy. "Box Office: 'Hunger Games' beats record with $155-million debut [Updated]". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  11. ^ Box Office Mojo. Saw (franchise). Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  12. ^ Halbfinger, David H. and David Carr (6 March 2006). "'Crash' Walks Away With the Top Prize at the Oscars". New York Times. Retrieved 26 October 2012
  13. ^ Woollard,Rob. "Oscars begin with wins for 'Precious'". ABN CBS News. Retrieved 26 October 2012
  14. ^ Broadway.com Staff. "Nicole Kidman Gets Oscar Nomination for Rabbit Hole; Alan Menken & Glenn Slater Nab Best Song Nod". Broadway.com. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  15. ^ Cooper, Jim. "Brand Genius 2012: Tim Palen, Hunger Games Lionsgate's Palen talks branding a giant movie franchise to Adweek's Jim Cooper" Adweek. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  16. ^ Fast Company. "The 100 Most Creative People in Business 2011: TIM PALEN / Lionsgate". Fast Company. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  17. ^ Entertainment Weekly. "The 50 Smartest People In Hollywood: Tim Palen". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  18. ^ McClintock, Pamela. "Box Office Report: 'Possession' Scares Up $21.3 Mil, No. 2 Labor Day Opening". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  19. ^ Box Office Mojo. "Tyler Perry - Director - Box Office". Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  20. ^ Hill, Logan (4 June 2007). "Eli Roth Has His Dirk Diggler Moment". Vulture. New York Entertainment. Retrieved 17 December 2008. Surprisingly, many of Lionsgate's sharpest posters were actually shot by Tim Palen, Lionsgate marketing exec and a part-time photographer. 
  21. ^ a b c Burr, Paula. "Guts: Author Tim Palen Spills 'Em All...". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 17 December 2008. 
  22. ^ a b c d e Goldstein, Patrick (5 June 2007). "Those "Hostel" ads test squirm factor". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, CA. p. E1. Retrieved 18 December 2008. 
  23. ^ Friend, Tad (19 January 2009). "The Cobra - Inside a movie marketer's playbook". The New Yorker. New York, NY. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  24. ^ Gordon, Devin (3 April 2006). "Horror Show". Newsweek. p. 1. Retrieved 22 December 2008. 
  25. ^ Moerk, Christian (10 January 2006). "The selling of a film, one poster at a time". International Herald Tribune. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 22 December 2008. 
  26. ^ Billington, Alex (10 October 2006). "Saw III Posters Made From Jigsaw's Blood". First Showing, LLC. Retrieved 18 December 2008. 
  27. ^ Hill, Logan (4 June 2007). "Eli Roth Has His Dirk Diggler Moment". Vulture. New York Entertainment. Retrieved 17 December 2008. 
  28. ^ Movie Insider. "Upcoming Movies 2013". Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  29. ^ Tim Palen official website. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  30. ^ Buchanan, Kyle. "See Portraits of Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton in MMA Fighting Shape in The Men of Warrior". Vulture. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  31. ^ Meh. "Tim Palen's GUTS at Comic-Con". Horror Movies. Retrieved 17 December 2008. 
  32. ^ "Exclusive Hunger Games Print: The Sister Portrait, Featuring Katniss and Prim". Vanity Fair. Vanity Fair. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  33. ^ Corcoran, Monica (4 November 2007). "Simply raw admiration". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, CA. p. P8. Retrieved 22 December 2008. 
  34. ^ Magnuson, Ann (9 November 2007). "L.A. Woman Makes L.A. Times (Courtesy of Tim Palen's GUTS)". L.A. Woman. Paper. Retrieved 22 December 2008. 
  35. ^ Anne Thompson. " "For Colored Girls Living Portrait Gallery". Retrieved 9 May 2011. 

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