A few months after Universal announced a restructure of its international operations that intended to see a then-unnamed head of international theatrical operations located in Los Angeles, the studio has decided to keep the point person for overseas in London. Duncan Clark, who has been President of Distribution for Universal Pictures International since June 2011, will expand his role to lead the international team from his current perch in the British capital.
The announcement regarding Clark, who was named International Distributor of the Year at CineEurope in June, was made at an internal worldwide summit of Universal marketing and distribution execs in L.A. this morning (read the memo below). The move follows closely on the heels of Friday’s appointment of Universal EVP Worldwide Acquisitions Peter Kujawski to the newly created position of Director of Universal Pictures International Productions. It also follows Josh Goldstine’s May promotion to President of Worldwide Marketing. Both those execs will work out of Los Angeles.
When the initial rejigger of the overseas operations was announced in April, veteran exec David Kosse — who is President, International, Universal Pictures and whose purview included overseeing production/acquisitions, distribution and marketing — chose to remain in London rather than head to the West Coast. It was understood at the time that the L.A. brass wanted to bring the day-to-day running of the lucrative international growth area closer to home.
I now understand that the ultimate decision to keep the stewardship of international operations in London was made as Kosse began transitioning; he leaves Universal on October 1 to become Director of Film4 on November 1. As Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley and Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Chairman Jeff Shell started working more closely with Clark, coupled with the promotions of Goldstine and Kujawski, the thinking became that the strongest bench already was in-house and there was no need to go outside to seek a new L.A.-based exec.
As UIP’s President of Distribution, Clark oversees the group’s operating companies, United International Pictures, as well as UIP’s independent partners and sales agents. In 2013 under his oversight, the studio crossed the $2 billion mark at the international box office for the first time in its history thanks to hits Despicable Me 2, Fast & Furious 6, Oblivion and Les Miserables.
Prior to joining Universal, Clark was a marketing and distribution consultant for Steven Spielberg on War Of The Worlds and Munich, as well as the James Bond reboot Casino Royale. Before that, he spent 14 years at Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures.
Here is Universal’s internal memo from today:
In May we announced our intention to move our senior international executive to Los Angeles. Some internal changes and analysis, however, have propelled us to end our search to fill that position and go in a different direction.
Since our announcement, we’ve had the opportunity to work much more closely with our president of distribution for Universal Pictures International, Duncan Clark, who has stepped up to lead our international operations from London. Duncan is a highly respected executive with years of experience at Universal and in similar roles at other studios. He’s a key contributor and strategist who provides enormous value to our company, and we feel that Universal is well positioned to continue to grow in the international space under his leadership. Thus, we have ended our search for an international theatrical leader based in Los Angeles, and Duncan has agreed to fulfill that role from London.
On other international fronts, we announced on Friday that we have appointed Peter Kujawski to managing director, Universal Pictures International Productions. He will oversee our international theatrical production and worldwide acquisition efforts working with the production and operations teams here in Los Angeles. Also earlier this year, we promoted Josh Goldstine to head our marketing efforts expanding his reach to oversight of all our marketing operations around the world.
With Duncan leading our international team from London and Josh and Peter here in Los Angeles, we believe we’ve achieved the twin goals of securing the strongest possible international leaders and also being able to have more day-to-day interaction between those leaders and Universal’s executive team.
We are thrilled to have such an incredible bench of executives in our Universal ranks and confident that this is the right decision for the studio.
Please join us in congratulating Duncan on his promotion and thanking him for his continued leadership and commitment to Universal.