Bob Levin, the former head of marketing at both Sony Pictures and The Walt Disney Co, has been named president, worldwide theatrical marketing and distribution, at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Distribution Co, uniting into a single job the posts currently held by Larry Gleason, head of worldwide distribution, and Gerry Rich, head of worldwide marketing.

Gleason and Rich, whose contracts are up for renewal this year, have not yet left the studio despite reports to the contrary and might still remain in some capacity, or as consultants. However, with Levin brought in above them, it is unlikely that they will remain at MGM. They were two of the only senior executives who remained in place after new studio chiefs Alex Yemenidjian and Chris McGurk came into MGM in 1999 to replace exiting Frank Mancuso.

However, MGM has enjoyed only moderate success with its theatrical releases of late, whose success is particularly crucial to the company which is one of the only stand-alone studios in Hollywood with no affiliated TV networks, although earlier this year it paid $825m for a 20% stake in Rainbow Media which owns cable channels American Movie Classics, Bravo and Independent Film Channel among others.

Although Hannibal was a huge success in Jan this year for MGM, other subsequent films - Antittrust, Heartbreakers and What's The Worst That Could Happen' have veered from medium to poor performers.

Levin will oversee a slate this year which includes much buzzed about comedy Legally Blonde starring Reese Witherspoon, John Woo's World War II epic Windtalkers starring Nicolas Cage, period thriller Original Sin featuring Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie, action remake Rollerball directed by John McTiernan, Barry Levinson's comedy Bandits with Bruce Willis and Cate Blanchett and war drama Hart's War featuring Willis again and Colin Farrell.

Levin, who reports to MGM vice chairman and chief operating officer Chris McGurk, will also oversee the studio's specialty unit United Artists which has a full upcoming slate including horror movie Jeepers Creepers, Terry Zwigoff's Ghost World and Roman Coppola's CQ.

Only six weeks ago, Levin was named president of Creative Domain Enterprises, a newly formed division of the entertainment marketing company Creative Domain. From 1995 to 2000, he was president of worldwide marketing for Sony Pictures Entertainment, overseeing campaigns for such hits as Men In Black, Jerry Maguire, Air Force One, As Good As It Gets and Godzilla.

Prior to Sony, he was president of Buena Vista Pictures Worldwide Marketing responsible for marketing films such as The Lion King, Pretty Woman and Good Morning Vietnam as well as leading Disney into live theatre with first theatrical production Beauty And The Beast.