Mike Fleming Jr reported earlier this month that while Focus Features co-CEO Andrew Karpen was asked to stay at the restructured Universal specialty division, it was just as likely he’d depart after not wanting to uproot his family from NY to LA. Now Universal has made his departure official today in announcing the new exec suite under new CEO Peter Schlessel. Karpen will stay on during the transition. Among those staying put is Jeb Brody, who will keep his President of Production title. Here’s the release:
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA, October 15, 2013—Focus Features today announced the leadership team for the newly reconstructed division under incoming Focus Features CEO, Peter Schlessel. Focus’ new leadership will be comprised of key executives from within the ranks of both Focus Features and FilmDistrict. Today’s announcement supports Schlessel’s mandate to evolve the Focus Features strategy to maximize potential by diversifying and expanding its film slate to include a greater number of specialty and wide release films.
“I am pleased to announce the executive management team that will help me lead Focus Features into its next chapter,” said Schlessel. “These executives will work with me in the coming weeks to round out the balance of our staffing needs for the company.”
Within this newly realigned structure:
· Adrian Alperovich will become Focus Features’ new Chief Operating Officer. He currently serves as FilmDistrict’s COO.
· Christine Birch, who is currently President of Marketing at FilmDistrict, will join Focus as President of Marketing.
· Focus Features President of Publicity and Executive Vice President of Marketing, Adriene Bowles, will retain her current title and responsibilities.
· FilmDistrict’s Jim Orr will lead Distribution as President.
· Focus’ President of Production, Jeb Brody, will retain his current title and responsibilities.
· FilmDistrict’s Lia Buman will be President of Acquisitions at Focus Features. Buman and Brody will work together to shape Focus’ slate.
Current Focus Co-CEO Andrew Karpen has decided to leave the company in order to remain in New York with his family. Karpen was asked to be a part of the new Focus Features but chose not to relocate to Los Angeles. He will remain in his current role to help with the transition.
“After giving this opportunity much consideration, I’ve decided that this is simply not the right time for me to relocate my family to Los Angeles,” said Karpen. “I’m incredibly proud of all that we’ve accomplished at Focus, and know that the new company will thrive under Peter’s leadership.”
“I am disappointed that we could not convince Andrew to relocate, but I greatly respect his commitment to his family and life in New York,” said Schlessel. “However, he will be a valuable resource as the new management team moves forward on the foundation that he was instrumental in establishing over the last several years.”
Focus Features President of Marketing, David Brooks and President of Distribution, Jack Foley will also remain through the transition but will not be joining the new company permanently. FilmDistrict’s former Senior Vice President of Publicity, Elissa Greer, will segue into a new role as a non-exclusive independent contractor, working closely with Focus Features President of Publicity and Executive Vice President of Marketing, Adriene Bowles, on Focus Features releases through 2014.
Focus Features will release Dallas Buyers Club starring Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto beginning on November 1 in a platform release pattern beginning in New York and Los Angeles. In a highly competitive bidding process at the Toronto Film Festival, Focus also recently acquired worldwide distribution rights to Bad Words in which Jason Bateman stars and makes his feature film directorial debut.
Under Schlessel’s leadership FilmDistrict has established itself as a successful U.S. distributor and acquirer of feature films including the recent high-profile openings of Looper, Drive, Insidious: Chapter 2, Olympus Has Fallen, Evil Dead, and Safety Not Guaranteed among other titles. Upcoming FilmDistrict releases that are slated to open prior to December 31, 2013 will be released by FilmDistrict. These include Oldboy, the Spike Lee directed re-interpretation of the highly-acclaimed South Korean suspense film, on November 27, 2013. Films slated for 2014 will be released under the Focus Features banner and include That Awkward Moment starring Zac Efron, Miles Teller, and Michael B. Jordan on January 31, 2014; and Selfless starring Ryan Reynolds on September 26, 2014. FilmDistrict has co-distribution rights to Pompeii starring Kit Harington set for release on February 21, 2014 via partner TriStar Pictures.