Universal Pictures president of domestic distribution Nikki Rocco is stepping down from the post at the end of the year after 47 years at the studio, it was announced this morning. She was the first woman to be named the head of a major studio’s theatrical distribution operations when she took the job in 1996 and is one of Universal’s longest-serving employees, having joined up at age 17 and surviving seemingly countless regime changes. This move had been in the wind and as late as a month ago she denied to Deadline she was going anywhere. >Now Rocco — who counted Lew Wasserman among her most coveted industry relationships — will become a consultant. Her No. 2, co-president of distribution Nicholas Carpou, likely will take over the role though the studio did not say so in its release this morning.
In 2013, Universal had its best year ever at the domestic box office, with total grosses of $1.42 billion. It also crossed the $1 billion marker faster than any other time in its history.
Said NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer: “Nikki Rocco is one of the hardest working, most loyal people I’ve ever known, and I’ve cherished every moment we have worked together at this company. She has an impeccable reputation as one of the smartest, most dedicated people in film, and in her 47 years with the studio she’s truly become part of Universal’s DNA. While it’s hard to imagine Universal without Nikki, I’m looking forward to seeing her get some well-deserved time to herself and her family. Nikki has and will continue to make a tremendous impact on Universal and all the people with whom we do business.”