Universal Pictures is shaking up its overseas structure, relocating the head of international theatrical operations from London to Los Angeles. Just who that is, though, remains a question mark. Well-respected ten-year Universal veteran David Kosse, who is President, International, Universal Pictures, has chosen to remain in London rather than head to the West Coast. He is understood to be in discussions about another role within the company, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him end up in an external relationship with the studio further down the road. The push to bring the core of the robust international business that Kosse built to LA comes about six months after Jeff Shell was named Chairman, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. The understanding is that moving the head of international theatrical to the home office will make for closer collaboration between the overseas distribution and marketing team and the rest of the Universal Pictures executive suite. A search is on for the person who will head up international theatrical from Universal City. Word is that the individual will have a more narrowly focused role than Kosse, who has overseen all matters international from distribution and marketing to production around the globe with aplomb. A source says, “The job is so big. Kosse looks after the life-cycle of movies after they leave the U.S. and is looking after local production. International contributed more last year than any other year. Jeff’s thinking is that it’s a growth area and wants it under him in LA.” The new job’s exact responsibilities are believed to hew closer to marketing and distribution in close consort with the top LA brass. The studio recently upped Eddie Cunningham to President of Universal Pictures Worldwide Home Entertainment and relocated him from London to LA to work closely with Universal Pictures president and chief distribution officer Peter Levinsohn.
Under Kosse, Universal’s international business has flourished in recent years. The U.S.-born exec, who has lived in London for nearly two decades, has been instrumental in building the studio’s overseas footprint. Last year alone, Universal Pictures International Production had massive local hits that include Spanish horror pic Mama, Germany’s Der Medicus, Russian 3D fantasy pic VIY and Argentinian animation Foosball – not to mention 2014’s record breaking Spanish comedy Spanish Affairs which is the top grossing movie of the year locally, right behind The Wolf Of Wall Street which Universal handled in the territory. On the distribution side alone, Universal had its biggest international year ever in 2013. It wouldn’t be surprising if, after an exec is found to take over the new LA-based international position, another is hired to run up international production. In the meantime, Kosse will continue to oversee international operations for the studio during the transition. It’s understood that there are no plans to relocate other execs and that Universal is committed to a strong presence in the London office and around the world.