CBS Films Shifts to MediaVest

CBS Films, the theatrical movie unit of CBS Corp., has pulled its media planning and buying account from Havas’ MPG and placed it with Publicis Groupe’s MediaVest without a review, according to sources.

Last year the client spent $15 million on ads, largely to promote its first film, Extraordinary Measures, starring Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford, which debuted in theaters in January. But sources said the studio’s ad budget is expected to climb to approximately $100 million once it is producing a full slate of films.

CBS Films was established in 2007 with plans to produce up to six movies a year with production budgets not exceeding $50 million per film.

MPG won the business in February 2009 after a review that included Aegis Group’s Carat and Omnicom’s OMD. The latter handles the media duties for the CBS Television Network and sibling cable network Showtime.

It was not precisely clear why the shift occurred. The agencies declined comment or referred calls to the client. A client representative did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

At an analyst conference last week, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves described Measures as a “major disappointment” at the box office, but said he was surprised that “people expected us to produce Avatar our first time out.” Moonves added that he still strongly endorsed the CBS Films strategy, which he described as low risk. In addition to future box office potential, the unit will provide content to Showtime going forward and potentially generate revenue in other back-end markets, he said.

Upcoming films from the unit include romantic comedy The Back-up Plan with Jennifer Lopez, which debuts in April, and Beastly, which the studio described as an edgy teen romance saga and is scheduled to open in July.

It’s been a rocky four or five months for MPG on the business development front. In November, it lost domestic chores on Reckitt Benckiser ($500 million) to Publicis’ Zenith Media, although it added some offshore duties. In December it lost pharma account Boehringer ($200 million) to WPP’s Mindshare without a review. Last month its Schering-Plough business went into play as a part of the Merck consolidation review, in which it is participating.

MPG started off the new year with a Panasonic win ($30 million). This week it won (with sibling Arnold) the Huntington National Bank assignment ($5 million).