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Julian Senior, Longtime Warner Bros. Publicity Executive in Europe, Dies at 85

Julian Senior, the veteran Warner Bros. marketing and publicity executive in Europe who enjoyed close relationships with filmmakers including Oscar winners Stanley Kubrick, Clint Eastwood, David Puttnam and Neil Jordan, has died. He was 85.

Senior died Jan. 1 of pneumonia and heart failure in a hospital near his home in Borehamwood, England, Conor Nolan, his friend and onetime Warner Bros. colleague, told The Hollywood Reporter.

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A native of South Africa, Senior joined Warner Bros. in 1970 after an eight-year run at MGM, where he was an advertising and publicity consultant in its European Regional Office, and he stuck with the studio through 2000.

At the start, Senior helped mastermind the advertising and publicity campaign for the landmark Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange (1971), and he also worked with the famed director on The Shining (1980), Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999).

“He taught me how publicity, advertising and marketing operates,” Senior once said of Kubrick. “He was the most pragmatic, logical human being in the world, and of course, advertising and publicity is logical common sense. You produce a product; you define the audience; and then you tell them what the product’s like.”

Eyes Wide Shut executive producer Jan Harlan (Kubrick’s brother-in-law) said in a statement: “What connected Julian and Stanley over almost 30 years was the ability of both men to distinguish between what is serious and what is not, to care endlessly about the serious and to make fun of what was pretentious.”

Senior handled the campaigns for Eastwood movies from Unforgiven (1992) to Space Cowboys (2000). “Over many years, I came to rely on Julian’s advice and commitment, to respect his professionalism and to enjoy most of all, his jokes,” the director said in a statement. “I shall miss him.”

Senior also worked with producer Puttnam on Chariots of Fire (1981), Local Hero (1983), The Killing Fields (1984) and The Mission (1986).

Said Puttnam: “What was special about Julian is that he was a ‘friend for all seasons’ — not just supporting and celebrating success but helping to analyze and pick up the pieces following (in my case all too many) failures.

“That is quite an unusual trait in the movie business, and I treasured Julian for defying industry logic that suggests it is a bad idea to be associated with failure — his secret weapon being his endearing irreverence!”

Senior collaborated with director Jordan and producer Stephen Woolley on campaigns for Interview With the Vampire (1994), Michael Collins (1996) and The Butcher Boy (1997).

“I was lucky enough to make three movies with Warner Bros. when it was the best studio in the world and when Julian Senior was the best publicist in the world,” Jordan said. “The quiet aplomb with which he steered Michael Collins through controversy is worthy of a movie alone. He was a legend, and the film business is a little quieter without him.”

Senior also did marketing for such other films as Goodfellas (1990), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), JFK (1991), the Lethal Weapon movies, The Last of the Mohicans (1992), The Bodyguard (1992), The Fugitive (1993), Natural Born Killers (1994), Heat (1995), Mars Attacks (1996), Contact (1997), The Butcher Boy (1998) and Any Given Sunday (1999).

Senior retired as head of European regional advertising and publicity for Warner Bros. Pictures in 2000, with Nolan and Con Gornell succeeding him.

“He was more than just a boss to me but a mentor, a friend and above everything else, hugely instrumental in my love of marketing, particularly publicity & PR,” Nolan said.

Survivors include his children, David, Paul and Phillippa, and eight grandchildren.

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