Vista Group CEO Kimbal Riley has announced that longtime Movio executives Sarah Lewthwaite and Matthew Liebmann will jointly lead the company following the departure of co-founder and chief executive Will Palmer this December. Movio, the marketing data analytics and cinema campaign management company, was founded by Palmer and Peter Beguely in 2010. Lewthwaite, Movio’s chief client officer located in London, and Matthew Liebmann, Movio’s chief operating officer operating out of the company’s Auckland headquarters, will report directly to Riley.
“Movio is indebted to Will for the tremendous bench strength he has developed,” Riley added. “Matthew and Sarah are world class leaders, each deeply respected within Movio, Vista Group, and the entire theatrical sector. Both Will and I have the utmost faith in their ability to guide the Movio team as it continues to deliver outstanding results now and into the future.”
For the past year, Lewthwaite expanded her area of responsibility and has been responsible for all Movio’s exhibition, film studio, and distributor relationships globally. She successfully established Movio Cinema in the EMEA market, growing the region's cinema client base to more than 40 exhibitors in more than 30 countries, while launching Movio Media and Movio Research in the UK, and forming partnerships with key film studio and distribution partners. She also led Movio Strategic Services, designing loyalty program and database marketing strategies in 12 different countries.
Prior to Movio, Lewthwaite spent 15 years in the cinema industry in Canada, including as vice president of marketing at Cineplex Entertainment, during which she led the development of their customer loyalty program and marketing strategy. Lewthwaite also sits on the board of the Event Cinema Association, is a director for the Cinema Technology Community and was named one of 2020’s Top 50 Women in Global Cinema by Celluloid Junkie and Box Office.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be leading Movio into the future,” said Lewthwaite. “We are at a pivotal time in the cinema industry, and I am both optimistic and excited for what is to come, and how Movio will continue to evolve to support the needs of our clients. Matthew and I have formed a fantastic partnership and our complementary skills and locations in the world will allow us to deliver even more effectively to our clients, team and shareholders.”
For almost 25 years, Matthew Liebmann has focused on the entertainment and media sector, helping cinema exhibitors adapt to advancing technology and changing guest expectations. As chief operating officer at Movio, he has overseen worldwide strategy and operations for Movio's flagship product, Movio Cinema, the leading marketing data analytics and targeted campaign solution for cinema exhibitors, which accrues anonymized comprehensive marketing data on 39+ million active moviegoers from the world's leading cinema chains.
Prior to joining Movio, Liebmann spent much of his career in cinema exhibition. He launched and directed the guest loyalty program at Hoyts Cinema Australia, chosen as best program in Australia in 2012 by the Australian Marketing Institute. He was a leading entertainment and media consultant at PwC Australia, as well as the founding author of the Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook. Liebmann also served two terms as a director on the board of Screen Australia, the Australian Federal Government's key funding body for the Australian screen production industry.
“I have been involved with Movio for almost 10 years, first as a client and then as an employee, so I truly understand the product, team, and legacy that Will and his co-founder Peter Beguely created,” said Liebmann. “I’m excited to build upon their achievements for the benefit of our industry, our clients and moviegoers and I cannot think of a better partner in this than Sarah Lewthwaite.”
“It has been an absolute privilege to lead the Movio team for the past 11 years,” said Palmer. “Their collective talent and constant drive to innovate continues to amaze me. And while there is still so much more to achieve, I felt the time was right to hand the reins to two outstanding executives and personal friends, Sarah Lewthwaite and Matthew Liebmann. Their energy and enthusiasm for the film industry is unparalleled and I have no doubt they will ensure Movio’s ongoing success.“
Palmer is launching a new venture studio aimed at developing innovative products and building businesses alongside industry-relevant executives and entrepreneurs. The first product Palmer will bring to market is Cupla, the relationship app he has developed with his wife Erika, which has recently closed its pre-seed investment round and is due to launch early next year.
“Will has been absolutely instrumental in the success of Vista Group by building Movio into the global leader in marketing data analytics and campaign management solutions for the film industry,” said Riley. “Now, having navigated the pandemic successfully, Will felt it was the right time for him to pass the baton to the capable hands of Sarah Lewthwaite and Matthew Liebmann to continue to build on Movio’s legacy while he flexes his entrepreneurial muscles once again. My heartfelt thanks to Will for his outstanding contribution to Vista Group and Movio. We all wish him the very best for his future endeavors.”