Arnold Kopelson Dies: ‘Platoon’, ‘The Fugitive’ Producer Was 83

Arnold Kopelson
Jim Smeal/Shutterstock

Arnold Kopelson, the producer of films including the Oscar-winning Platoon and The Fugitive, and a CBS Corp board member from 2007 until last month, died at his home in Beverly Hills today. He was 83.

His death was announced by his wife and business partner, Anne Kopelson. CBS confirmed the news.

“Arnold was a man of exceptional talent whose legacy will long survive him. He also, of course, was a highly dedicated CBS board member for more than 10 years,” CBS said Monday. “Our hearts go out to Anne and his family.”

Twisted Arnold Kopelson Andy Garcia
Arnold Kopelson, right, and Andy Garcia on “Twisted” set Moviestore/Shutterstock

Kopelson was born on February 14, 1935 in Brooklyn, NY. He attended and then later graduated from New York University. He went on to earn a law degree at New York Law School. He began his law career in New York, Kopelson acted as special counsel in entertainment lending transactions to several institutions.

He would go on to partner with his future wife Anne Feinberg to form Film Packages, Inc. — which would later become Kopelson Entertainment. With his experience in motion picture financing, Kopelson headed west to Hollywood where he would become a full-time producer.

His film producing credits also include The Devil’s Advocate, Seven and Outbreak, among dozens. The range of films reaches back to 1981’s Porky’s and would go on to include 1989’s Triumph of the Spirit, 1993’s Falling Down and 1995’s OutbreakKopelson, named Showest’s Producer of the Year in 1994.

This past summer, Kopelson’s name surfaced in the news when a video he reportedly shot of a 95-year-old Sumner Redstone became part of the legal debate over Redstone’s mental capacity. Kopelson also made headlines when he emailed a letter to comedian Kathy Griffin suggesting she apologize to President Donald Trump after she was photographed holding a bloody severed dummy head resembling the president, noting, “If you don’t do exactly what I have written, your career is over.”

Platoon Oscars Arnold Kopelson
“Platoon” team Arnold Kopelson, left, Claire Simpson and Oliver Stone ennox McLendon/Shutterstock

Kopelson founded Inter-Ocean Film Sales in 1972, specializing in foreign distribution of independently produced non-American TV movies, and by the mid-1980s his own producing efforts reached a critical and commercial milestone with Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning Platoon, starring Willem Defoe, Tom Berenger and Charlie Sheen.

The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford, arrived in ’93, followed two years later by Seven, starring Brad Pitt. The streak continued with the Arnold Schwarzenegger action film Eraser in 1997. Efforts to bring The Fugitive franchise back to television were unsuccessful, but in 2007 Kopelson reportedly signed a multimillion-dollar deal with the Houston-based Equus Total Return, Inc. to finance film development.

Also that year, Kopelson was elected to the board of directors of CBS Corp. He also served on the Executive Committee of the Producer’s Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was a member of the Board of Mentors of the Peter Stark Motion Picture Producer’s Program at the University of Southern California. In 1998, Kopelson Received the New York Law School Distinguished Alumnus Award for Lifetime Achievement.

He is survived by his wife Anne Kopelson and three children, Peter, Evan and Stephanie. Funeral services will be held on  Oct. 10th at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park in Los Angeles. A Memorial will also take place at a later date.


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