In an internal memo to Universal staffers today, distribution chief Nick Carpou announced that the department’s EVP and general sales manager Mark Gaines is retiring after 39 years at the studio. Gaines will depart Monday. Taking over his EVP and head of sales post is Steve Bunnell, Uni’s current distribution SVP and assistant general sales manager.
Bunnell joined Universal last year and worked alongside Gaines on all matters relating to licensing of Universal theatrical releases. Bunnell had held a number of leadership positions in distribution and exhibition, arriving in Los Angeles in 1981 as a film buyer for Mann Theatres. He’s held previous exec roles at Samuel Goldwin Company, Loews Theatres, The Weinstein Company and Cinemark Theatres.
Gaines began working for Universal as a booker in their Atlanta branch in 1976. He served as branch manager in various southern cities, including Dallas in 1988, before relocating to LA in 1990 as VP, Division Manager. He was named SVP, National Sales Manager in 1994 before his promotion to his current position in 1997.
“During his nearly four decades in our industry, Mark has been an integral part of a rapidly-evolving business,” Carpou said in the memo. “In the early years, there were ‘mom-and-pop’ theaters in every town. He recalls selling films in gas stations and at exhibitors’ homes over dinner. The consummate distributor, Mark once even did business at a county fair where the theater owner was selling his prize bull.”
Concluded Carpou, “Mark and I have worked together closely over many years, and he has consistently proven himself as one of the most dedicated members of the Universal family. He has been a key player in Universal’s domestic theatrical success, especially as we celebrated our record-breaking achievements in 2015.”
Last year, Universal set both company and industry records at the global and domestic B.O. with respective takes of $2.44B and $6.8B.