EXCLUSIVE: Universal has set changes to its leadership teams for Germany/Austria and the Netherlands as Paul Steinschulte, Managing Director for Germany and Austria, has decided to retire at the end of the year. A 31-year veteran of the studio, he joined in 1989 as part of a joint venture between Universal and Paramount.
Universal’s President of International Distribution, Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, made the announcement in an internal memo, and said, “This news is bittersweet for us and the team as Paul has been instrumental to our success in these markets, including the record-breaking achievements in 2015 with Fifty Shades Of Grey, Furious 7, Pitch Perfect, Minions and Jurassic World. Paul has released nearly 1,000 films and is a highly respected colleague across the industry with our Universal colleagues, filmmakers and exhibition partners. Please join us in thanking Paul for his exceptional leadership, outstanding contributions to the company and kind friendship he has shown us through the years.”
With Steinschulte’s departure, Karel De Vries will take on the role to oversee Germany and Austria, effective January 2021. He will shepherd distribution strategies in those markets, working closely with LA and leading the team Steinschulte built in the region.
De Vries is currently Managing Director for the Netherlands, and with his team, has driven many successes including propelling Illumination’s Minions to become the most successful Universal film ever there, as well as having nine films in the top 20 best performing movies in 2015, and becoming the market leader in the Netherlands in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
Following De Vries’ transition to Germany and Austria, Claire Vogelenzang is being promoted to Managing Director for the Netherlands, effective January 2021.
The exec joined Universal in 1995 and currently serves as Marketing Director and Assistant Managing Director in the Netherlands. Her marketing portfolio includes such Universal hits as the Jurassic World, Despicable Me and Fast & Furious franchises, as well as films from partners including Paramount’s Mission Impossible and Star Trek series and Sony’s Spider-Man Homecoming and Venom.
Added Kwan Vandenberg, “With Karel and Claire, we are proud to have a deep bench of leaders who can take on new responsibilities and expand their careers here at Universal. Please join us in wishing Paul well in his retirement and congratulating Karel and Claire on their new roles.”