EXCLUSIVE: Veteran Universal executive Jack Ledwith is set to retire at the end of the year. Currently Senior Vice President and Managing Director of International Distribution, Ledwith has been at Universal for 21 years and worked in film distribution for 42. Prior to joining Uni in 1996, he held positions at Avco Embassy Pictures, Embassy Pictures, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group and Carolco Pictures. Universal Pictures International President of Distribution, Duncan Clark, shared the news with staffers in a memo.
Ledwith’s exit follows last week’s word that Universal’s domestic distribution President, Nick Carpou, is retiring after 35 years with the studio. Jim Orr is stepping into Carpou’s role; a replacement has not been named for Ledwith.
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At Uni, Ledwith has shepherded the international releases of some of the studio’s most successful titles, including Gladiator, Les Misérables, Mamma Mia!, Inglourious Basterds, Jurassic World and the Bourne, American Pie, Fast & Furious and Despicable Me franchises. Clark noted, “His efforts have helped to deliver the four highest-grossing years at the international box office in our studio’s history.”
Universal has had some major runs recently. In 2015, it saw three movies top $1B at the worldwide box office and went on to break a then-record for the highest-grossing year ever for a studio in industry history — in just seven months.
So far in 2017, it has two $1B+ grossers among only three movies to reach that global threshold. Despicable Me 3 just last week joined The Fate Of The Furious in the club. In July this year, the studio crossed the $4B mark at the worldwide box office for the second time in its 105-year history.
Here’s the Ledwith memo that Clark sent around internally:
It is with mixed emotions that I share some news with you about our international leadership. After more than 21 years of distinguished service with Universal Pictures, Jack Ledwith, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of International Distribution, has decided to retire at the end of the year.
Since 1996, Jack has been an integral and valued member of our distribution family. Under his leadership, he has shepherded the international releases of some of our most successful and beloved films, including Gladiator, Les Misérables, Mamma Mia!, Inglourious Basterds, Jurassic World and the movies of the Bourne, American Pie, Fast & Furious and Despicable Me franchises, among countless others. His efforts have helped to deliver the four highest-grossing years at the international box office in our studio’s history.
Jack has worked in film distribution for 42 years and helped bring more than 800 films to the screen. Before joining Universal, he held positions at Avco Embassy Pictures, Embassy Pictures, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group and Carolco Pictures. In 2012, he was honored with the CinemaCon Passepartout Award, and in 2015 was named International Distributor of the Year at CineAsia.
Since the formation of Universal Pictures International in 2006, Simon, Niels and I have had the distinct pleasure of working alongside him closely. On behalf of them, and the entire organization, I would like to thank Jack for his countless contributions to our company. Across many management teams and challenges too many to name, he has been a tremendous asset to the international operation.
While we will miss his daily presence at the studio, we know he’s only a phone call away. Please join me in congratulating Jack and his family on his retirement and wishing him well on his much-deserved next chapter.
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