The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

New business professor Dan Wolfe brings movie magic to UMW

3 min read
By SAVANNAH BOYD Staff Writer Professor Dan Wolfe has returned to UMW after graduating in 1984 and working in the movie industry for over 30 years.

Savannah Boyd | Blue & Gray Press


Staff Writer

This semester there is a new faculty member in the College of Business. Professor Dan Wolfe has returned to UMW after graduating in 1984 and working in the movie industry for over 30 years. Wolfe is teaching principles of marketing, promotion management, and marketing movies in the College of Business.

Marketing movies is a class that was created by Wolfe and this is the first semester it is being offered. In this class students learn the ins and outs of the movie industry, how to create a movie campaign and analyze weekly box-office statistics.

“The marketing movies class is something different from anything you have learned in marketing because there is such a finite amount of time that you work on a movie and the process is so consumer driven,” said Wolfe.

Wolfe spent most of his career at Universal Pictures where he began as a manager of broadcast advertising and, after a series of promotions, became an executive vice president of Worldwide Marketing Operations, with offices in Los Angeles and London.

“My department handled everything marketing-related worldwide for theatrical, home entertainment, digital, theme parks and other ancillary groups within Universal,” said Wolfe.

Professor Wolfe has worked on over 550 films in his career. Some successful film series he has worked on include Bourne, Fast and Furious and Jurassic Park. He has also worked on movies that have won Academy Awards like A Beautiful Mind, Silence of the Lambs, Dances with Wolves and Schindler’s List.

Throughout his career, he has had the opportunity to work with incredible talent. “I worked with Adam Sandler early in my career which was cool because I could work directly with him,” said Wolfe. “I also got a chance to work with Steven Spielberg a couple times. I really admire him because he knows what he wants, is collaborative, and he is such a nice guy to work with.”

Wolfe is a voting member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

“My advice to students who want to go into the movie industry is that ‘If you want to hunt buffalo, you have to go where the buffalo are’. This means, do not stay local to build your resume, you need to move to New York or Los Angeles. You must be willing to start at the bottom, work hard and long hours. You have to fight to get in the door but once you do there are a lot of opportunities.

Professor Wolfe is a voting member for the Oscars. | Robert Martin / UMW

Last year Wolfe decided he wanted something different in his life. “I loved what I did but it consumed me, working sometimes 7 days a week,” said Wolfe. “I have always known that I would eventually go into teaching and I am excited to teach something that I am truly passionate for.”

“I have Professor Wolfe for promotion management and marketing movies,” said senior marketing major Sarah Hampton. “His previous experience at Universal Pictures makes our class so interesting. He has the inside scoop on the movie business which helps him teach us how to apply marketing strategies in real life. I would definitely recommend his class to other students.”

In the transition from executive vice president of World Wide Marketing Operations to a UMW professor, he has faced a few challenges. “My biggest challenge is how much things have changed, everything is much more digital and online based,” said Wolfe. “My other challenge is that I can talk all day about the business and how things operate but I have not done theory in 30 years. I am going back and learning marketing theories again. I find it challenging but very rewarding.”

Wolfe first studied marketing theories when he was a student at UMW from 1980-1984. At the time, the ratio of UMW students was about 9 women to 1 man. He was a business administration major, the vice president for Student Council and had an internship at the WFVA radio station that helped him decide he wanted to go into broadcast marketing.