After more than 35 years at Universal Pictures, domestic distribution president Nick Carpou is set to retire from his post in October and transition to an advisory role for the studio, it was announced Tuesday.
Through a strategic realignment of the domestic distribution operation, Jim Orr will replace Carpou as president of domestic distribution, while Peter Levinsohn, Universal’s president and chief distribution officer, will take on an expanded role within the department.
Under Carpou’s leadership, Universal broke numerous industry and studio records, including its highest-grossing and most profitable years ever. When Carpou was appointed president in 2015, he oversaw the domestic slate for the biggest year Hollywood had ever seen at the box office, with $6.89 billion in worldwide sales. Universal’s domestic earnings of $2.45 billion that year marked the first time in its history that the studio took the market share crown. Additionally, Universal set records for the fastest that a studio has ever reached $1 billion and $2 billion at the domestic box office. With Furious 7, Jurassic World and Minions all achieving that milestone, this also marked the first time a studio had three films cross the billion-dollar mark at the worldwide box office in a single year.
Beginning in 2015, Carpou and his team oversaw distribution for 15 No. 1 films, ranging from micro-budget breakouts such as Get Out and Split to animated juggernauts including Minions, The Secret Life of Pets and Despicable Me 3, and tentpole franchises such as titles in the Fast & Furious series and Jurassic World.
“Universal has been my happy home for many years, during which I’ve been fortunate enough to befriend an amazing group of people — both within the company and in the exhibition community,” said Carpou. “Ron [Meyer], Jeff [Shell] and Donna [Langley] gave me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead our distribution team, and I am grateful to have spent the majority of my career working for the best in the business.”
“Even though he has the fatal flaw of being a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan, Nick has been my friend and trusted advisor since I joined the company,” said Jeff Shell, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. “While we will all miss his daily presence at the studio, the strong bench he’s built will continue to carry our word-class distribution team for years to come. His longevity is a testament to the trust placed in him by Universal’s executive team and countless filmmakers, and we wish him all the best in his much-deserved next chapter.”
Under this strategic realignment, Levinsohn will now add oversight of the domestic theatrical distribution operation to his existing portfolio, which includes worldwide home entertainment, worldwide television distribution, new media and digital strategy, and technology for Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.
Meanwhile, Orr has more than 25 years of experience in distribution, having joined Universal in June 2016 from the studio’s specialty division, Focus Features, where he began serving as president of domestic distribution in 2012. While at Focus, he oversaw the releases of such hits as London Has Fallen and The Theory of Everything. Prior to Focus, Orr held various leadership positions at FilmDistrict, MGM and Paramount.
“Pete is a well-respected business leader who has long been responsible for a great deal of our worldwide distribution, and there is no one we’d rather have in this role,” Shell said in a statement. “He has a complete grasp on the overall business, as well as the ever-compounding challenges we face in today’s marketplace. Aligning our world-class theatrical distribution with the rest of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group’s divisions positions us perfectly for the future.”
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief