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Thompson on Hollywood

End of an Era: Only Woman Studio Distribution Chief Nikki Rocco To Step Down

When the first --and only--female distribution chief at a major studio lasts for 18 years at her job, she's damned good at it. Well, Universal Pictures distribution president Nikki Rocco is finally stepping down at the end of 2014 after 47 years at the studio--it's the only place she ever worked.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 22, 2014 3:50 PM
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As CinemaCon Wraps, Hollywood Needs to Learn Popcorn Time (Studio Roundups, DEMO VIDEO)

We wrap up studio-by-studio takeaways from the exhibitor convention CinemaCon in Las Vegas, as movie theaters and studios are stuck in an old paradigm. And then there's Popcorn Time.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 28, 2014 8:58 PM
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Universal Shuts Down Production on 'Fast & Furious 7,' LA County Coroner Deems Car Crash Deaths Accidental

Universal has halted production on "Fast & Furious 7" in order to figure out how to proceed with the production without valued cast member Paul Walker, who died last weekend of thermal injuries in a fatal car accident.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 4, 2013 2:11 PM
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How Indies 'Dallas Buyers Club' and 'Out of the Furnace' Got Made: Relativity's Robbie Brenner Talks Bale, McConaughey and Leto

Relativity's Robbie Brenner backed two movies in the year-end awards derby, "Out of the Furnace" and "Dallas Buyers Club."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 3, 2013 7:20 PM
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Schlessel Reshapes Focus Features: Loses Karpen and Foley, Keeps Brody and Bowles (ANALYSIS)

The new CEO of Focus Features, Peter Schlessel, has wasted no time reconfiguring two distributors, FilmDistrict and Focus, into one. By insisting on shutting down the Focus New York branch, he lost several valuable executives including Focus COO Andrew Karpen, who was asked to stay on. Schlessel aims to broaden Focus by expanding its film slate to include a greater number of both specialty and wide-release genre fare. He's putting in charge of the company his key FilmDistrict execs, but leaving Focus production president Jeb Brody--who happens to have a key role in "Fifty Shades of Grey," in charge of that function.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 15, 2013 5:22 PM
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'Fifty Shades of Grey' Brings on Writer Patrick Marber for Script Polishing; Search for New Christian Grey Continues UPDATED

UPDATE: On the heels of star Charlie Hunnam dropping out of "Fifty Shades of Grey," leaving the Universal/Focus Features production to find a new Christian Grey STAT, it's been announced the film has brought on Oscar-nominated scribe Patrick Marber ("Notes on a Scandal") to do some clean-up work on the script.
  • By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna
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  • October 15, 2013 11:52 AM
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  • 4 Comments

Universal Replaces Schamus with Schlessel to Expand Focus Features Brand

Universal is under new management. And another specialty division bites the dust. I may be overstating it, but safe to say, the old Focus Features--a high-class specialty division with an eye for awards worthy content--is no more. Longtime Focus CEO and co-founder James Schamus, a New Yorker of discernment who managed to work within a major studio's financial expectations for 12 years, is finally leaving the specialty division.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 2, 2013 3:06 PM
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  • 4 Comments

IN THE WORKS: 'Mother of George' Director Dosunmu to Helm 'Fela Kuti' Musical Biopic for Focus

Focus Features is developing a drama about famed Nigerian musician/activist Fela Kuti, who was also front and center in the hit Broadway musical "Fela!" "Mother of George" filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu will direct "Fela Kuti," which Focus is describing as a "drama with music," as opposed to a fullblown musical.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 16, 2013 4:14 PM
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  • 1 Comment

How to Make Sense of the Universal Shake-Up

It doesn't matter if you turn the studio around and score the number one summer market share. The firing of Universal co-chairman Adam Fogelson reminds us that what matters is whether or not your bosses like you. I remember seeing Adam Fogelson speak at CinemaCon a few years ago, when he was head of marketing at Universal. I thought he came off cocky. The man does not lack for confidence.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 12, 2013 10:36 PM
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  • 0 Comments

'Fifty Shades of Grey' Gets a 2014 Release Date UPDATED

UPDATE: The global release of "Fifty Shades of Grey," to be directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, will kick off in North America on August 1, 2014, via Focus Features.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 27, 2013 1:05 PM
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  • 7 Comments

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