UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif., March 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Marc Shmuger has been named Chairman, and David Linde Co-Chairman, Universal Pictures, effective immediately.
Prior to today's announcement, Shmuger had served as Vice Chairman, Universal Pictures since 2000, while Linde was Co-President of Focus Features and President of Rogue Pictures, the specialty film divisions of Universal Pictures, since 2002. In their new roles, Shmuger and Linde will oversee all domestic and international business units of Universal Pictures, Focus Features/Rogue Pictures and Universal Studios Home Entertainment, including production, distribution, marketing, legal and business affairs, acquisitions, consumer products, corporate partnerships, strategic planning and finance.
"I'm confident that Marc and David will have an extraordinary partnership," said Meyer. "Marc has been a critical part of our team since joining the company in 1998, and he led our global marketing and distribution efforts during our most successful years. Universal had its most profitable year ever in 2005 due in no small part to Marc, whose impact on this company has been the foundation for its unique culture and its far-ranging achievements. His passions and instincts inspire both his colleagues and the creative community, and I am pleased to acknowledge his talent and commitment."
Meyer added, "David has demonstrated tremendous leadership as he has built Focus Features into a first-rank production and distribution company that is known as much for its ability to garner accolades as it is for its breakout box office successes. His combination of strengths is unique in that he has been able to attract exceptional creative talent in a specialty film environment and at the same time is revered in the global sales and distribution community for his taste and acumen. I know that he will make even bigger contributions in his new role, and I am delighted that we'll benefit from his partnership with Marc."
Shmuger added, "I am grateful and excited to be given this new challenge, and I couldn't be more pleased that I'll be working side by side with David. I have every confidence that we can build on what Universal is already known for -- a studio committed to a deep respect for the creative process, and a place where innovation drives not only the movies we make, but every discipline in our business. On all fronts, in every aspect of our worldwide operations, we have the best team in the business and I can't wait to get to work."
Linde commented, "This is an amazing opportunity to work with the most talented group of people. When Universal is committed to something, the whole corporate culture pulls together to create success. I've enjoyed a tremendous run at Focus with my partner James Schamus and the entire Focus/Rogue team, and I look forward to continue working with them in my new role. I'm thrilled to work along side Marc at this extraordinary company."
Universal Pictures' release schedule for this year and next includes Paul Greengrass' Flight 93; Michael Mann's Miami Vice, starring Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell; Imagine Entertainment's Inside Man, starring Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster; Children Of Men, directed by Alfonso Cuaron and starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore; The Black Dahlia, directed by Brian De Palma and based on James Ellroy's celebrated best-seller; Working Title's The Golden Age, in which Cate Blanchett reprises her Oscar-nominated role as Elizabeth I; and several high-octane comedies including The Break-Up, starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston; You, Me And Dupree, starring Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon; Evan Almighty, Tom Shadyac's sequel to Bruce Almighty, starring Steve Carell and Morgan Freeman; and I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry, starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James. Current and upcoming Focus Features releases include Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (winner of 3 Academy Awards, including Best Director); Rian Johnson's Brick, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (winner of a Special Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival); Gaby Dellal's On a Clear Day, starring Peter Mullan and Brenda Blethyn; Peter Cattaneo's family film Opal Dream; Allen Coulter's Hollywoodland, starring Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck, and Diane Lane; and Shane Acker's animated fantasy epic 9, produced by Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov and Jim Lemley & Dana Ginsburg.
Shmuger has served as Vice Chairman, Universal Pictures since December 2000. His broad area of oversight included worldwide theatrical marketing and distribution, consumer products, corporate partnerships, brand and franchise development, market research, and media relations. He also serves as co- chairman of NBC Universal's Marketing Council, which oversees cross-promotion priorities for all film and television properties owned by NBC Universal. Prior to being named vice chairman, he served as President of Marketing for Universal Pictures from May 1998.
During his tenure at Universal, the studio has enjoyed its most sustained period of success in its long history, and has set new benchmarks for the industry. In 2000, Universal made box office history by becoming the first studio to open five consecutive number one movies at the domestic box office. In 2001, Universal became the first studio ever to have four films in a row open to more than $40 million, with each of them going on to gross more than $140 million domestically. In the summer of 2003, Universal became the first studio ever to have two consecutive releases open to $50+ million at the domestic box office, and then immediately topped its own record by opening its next film, its third in a row, to more than $50 million. Additionally, in 2003 Universal became the first studio to have five $100+ million domestic releases in one summer, as well as an outstanding six $100+ million international releases.
Among the many hits and franchises that Shmuger has launched at Universal are the worldwide blockbuster "King Kong," "The Mummy" franchise, the "American Pie" franchise, "The Fast and the Furious" franchise , The "Bourne Identity" franchise, the "Bridget Jones" franchise, the "Meet The Parents" franchise, "Ray", "Erin Brockovich", "8 Mile", "Notting Hill", and Dr. Seuss's "How The Grinch Stole Christmas". In addition, since 1998 Universal has also co-produced three Academy Award(R)-winning Best Pictures: "Shakespeare in Love", "Gladiator" and "A Beautiful Mind".
Shmuger came to Universal following a long-term relationship with Sony Pictures Entertainment, having joined Sony in 1991 as senior Vice President of creative advertising for Columbia Pictures. One year later, he was promoted to Executive Vice President marketing, and in 1994 was named Executive Vice President of worldwide marketing for the combined Columbia TriStar motion picture companies.
Shmuger's contributions to feature film marketing have been recognized with honors from every major advertising festival. In 1999 and 2000 he was named one of "The 50 Most Powerful People in Marketing" by Advertising Age and was also honored in both 1999 and 2000 by Advertising Age as Entertainment Marketer of the Year, the first person ever to receive this distinction twice. Shmuger is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wesleyan University.
Linde has served as Co-President of Focus Features (with James Schamus) since the company was formed in May 2002. As the specialty film unit of Universal Pictures, Focus is a motion picture production, financing, and worldwide distribution company committed to bringing moviegoers the most original stories from the world's most innovative filmmakers. While at Focus, Linde oversaw a diverse and critically-acclaimed slate including Roman Polanski's The Pianist, Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation, Fernando Mereilles' The Constant Gardener and Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain. During that time, the company garnered 53 Academy Award nominations, and 11 Academy Award wins.
Linde is one of the film world's most experienced executives, with his expertise coming from his informed perspectives on both the domestic and international film businesses as well as his longstanding relationships with a host of filmmakers.
The company's Rogue Pictures label, formed in March 2004, is devoted to producing and distributing high-quality suspense, action, thriller, and urban entertainment with mainstream appeal and franchise potential.
Prior to the formation of Focus, Linde was Co-President of Good Machine, Inc. and President of subsidiary Good Machine International (GMI). The latter was formed once he joined the parent company as a partner in January 1997. In its short history, GMI handled the international distribution of such critical and commercial successes as Ang Lee's multi-Academy Award-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Alfonso Cuaron's Academy Award-nominated Y Tu Mama Tambien; Joel and Ethan Coen's The Man Who Wasn't There; and Todd Field's award-winning In the Bedroom, as well as selectively representing films on behalf of MGM, Universal Pictures, and DreamWorks Pictures, among others.
During his tenure at Good Machine, Linde also executive-produced such notable films as Todd Solondz' acclaimed Happiness; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Y Tu Mama Tambien; and several award-winning nonfiction features.
Prior to joining Good Machine, Linde spent six years at Miramax Films. He joined the company in 1991 as Vice President of acquisitions, bringing in such celebrated independent features as John Sayles' Passion Fish, Chen Kaige's Farewell My Concubine, Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures, and Woody Allen's Bullets over Broadway. Next, as Senior Vice President and, later, Executive Vice President and head of sales, he was the founding executive of Miramax International. The company's successful run of films during that time included such boxoffice hits as Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite, Wes Craven's Scream, and Anthony Minghella's multi-Academy Award-winning The English Patient.
Prior to his years at Miramax, Linde directed the sales of over 300 independently produced film, documentary, and television titles as Vice President at Fox/Lorber; and supervised sales of select international theatrical rights at Paramount Pictures.
He currently sits on the boards of the American Film Marketing Association (the leading trade association for the independent film and television industry) and the Brooklyn Woods (a non-profit vocational carpentry program based in Brooklyn, New York).
Source: Universal Pictures