What a run! Respected distribution executive Nick Carpou is stepping down from Universal Pictures, where he has worked for the past 35 years, most recently as president of domestic distribution. In his place will be EVP and general sales manager Jim Orr who, in a bit of restructuring, will now report to Peter Levinsohn, who had overseen distribution except theatrical up to this point. Carpou, who had been overseeing the company’s theatrical sales in North America since 2011 as co-president with Nikki Rocco, became president once Rocco retired. He will stay on through October.
Orr joined Universal in June 2016 from the studio’s specialty division Focus Features, where he began serving as president of domestic distribution in 2012. While at Focus, he oversaw the releases of London Has Fallen and the Academy favorite The Theory Of Everything. Orr is an old pro, having held various leadership positions at FilmDistrict, MGM and Paramount.
Under this strategic realignment at the studio, Levinsohn now oversees domestic feature distribution, worldwide home entertainment, worldwide TV distribution, new media and digital strategy, and technology for Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.
“Pete is a well-respected business leader who has long been responsible for a great deal of our worldwide distribution, and there is no one we’d rather have in this role,” said Jeff Shell, Chairman, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, in making the announcement. “He has a complete grasp on the overall business, as well as the ever-compounding challenges we face in today’s marketplace. Aligning our world-class theatrical distribution with the rest of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group’s divisions positions us perfectly for the future.”
Under Carpou’s steady-handed leadership, Universal broke numerous industry and studio records, including its highest-grossing and most profitable years ever. He was instrumental in mapping out the distribution strategy for some of the studio’s biggest films including the surprise hits Get Out and Split (Blumhouse) as well as Minions, The Secret Life Of Pets and Despicable Me 3 from Illumination, and titles in the Fast & Furious series and Jurassic World.
When Carpou was appointed Ppresident in 2015, he oversaw the domestic slate for the biggest year Hollywood had ever seen at the box office, with $6.8B in worldwide sales and 15 films opening to No. 1. Universal’s domestic earnings of $2.45B that year marked the first time in its history the studio took the market share crown. Universal also set records for the fastest a studio has ever reached $1B and $2B at the domestic box office.
With Furious 7, Jurassic World and Minions all achieving that milestone, it also marked the first time a studio had three films cross $1B at the worldwide box office in one year.
“Ron, Jeff and Donna gave me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead our distribution team, and I am grateful to have spent the majority of my career working for the best in the business,” said Carpou in a statement.
“Even though he has the fatal flaw of being a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan, Nick has been my friend and trusted advisor since I joined the company,” added Shell. “While we will all miss his daily presence at the studio, the strong bench he’s built will continue to carry our word-class distribution team for years to come. His longevity is a testament to the trust placed in him by Universal’s executive team and countless filmmakers, and we wish him all the best in his much-deserved next chapter.”
Carpou is such a noted Giants fan because he began his career in San Francisco with United Artists Corporation in 1977. He worked for Associated Film Distribution from 1980-1981, and then joined Universal’s San Francisco branch office in 1982, where he was responsible for sales and booking assignments in various territories. In 1987, he relocated to Los Angeles, where he was promoted Branch Manager in 1989.
In 1990, Carpou became VP-Division Manager, then SVP National Sales in 1993. In 1997, he was named EVP-General Sales Manager at the studio.