Universal Pictures renews contracts with Marc Shmuger & David Linde

MUMBAI: Marc Shmuger and David Linde will continue to serve as the leading executives of Universal Pictures in a new four-year contract extension that also sees Linde elevated to the position of Chairman alongside Shmuger.

The announcement was made by President Ron Meyer and Universal Studios COO.

Since Shmuger was appointed Universal Pictures chairman and Linde was named Co-chairman in March 2006, the pair has engineered the transformation of the studio.

Under their shared leadership, Universal Pictures reached its all-time worldwide box-office record in 2007 and then surpassed that record again in 2008 with global receipts of $2.834 billion.

Shmuger and Linde have created an innovative model to produce, market and distribute films whether they remain in localized regions or break through to the broadest worldwide stage, positioning Universal Pictures as a global leader.

"Marc and David are the right people to lead this studio. They have guided us through a period of success that’s unprecedented in our history, and I am particularly proud that, with their new deals, they will lead Universal as we celebrate our upcoming historic centennial. Their accomplishments over the past three years and their vision for our future fill me with confidence and certainty that Universal is in the right hands in the years ahead," said Meyer.

NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker said, "We’re incredibly fortunate to have Marc and David running Universal Pictures. They perfectly blend their passion for film with creative vision and business savvy. Their complementary skills make them a great team, and they consistently deliver a slate that has wide consumer and critical appeal. Together with Ron, they’ve done an extraordinary job."

Shmuger and Linde have been instrumental in re-signing deals that extended relationships with the studio’s filmmaking partners, including Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner’s Working Title Films and production companies led by Scott Stuber and Marc Platt.

They also oversaw the return of DreamWorks in a new distribution arrangement and established new partnerships with content providers as Hasbro, Dark Horse, and the estate of Robert Ludlum

In addition to these key filmmaking deals, Shmuger and Linde committed Universal to competing alongside the industry’s most successful players in the family and animated entertainment business by forming a new supplier of all-audience films with Chris Meledandri through his Illumination Entertainment, whose films Universal will begin to release in 2010. To provide funding for its slate over the next seven years, Universal closed a deal with Relativity Media as a long-term financial partner.

Shmuger and Linde oversaw Universal’s restructuring of former joint venture UIP and the establishment of Universal Pictures International (UPI) in January 2007.

Over the past three years, Universal and Focus titles have earned 43 Academy Award(R) nominations. Under Shmuger and Linde, Universal has become the creative home to a diverse group of filmmakers working at any one place in the industry, with new deals or upcoming projects with Judd Apatow, Paul Greengrass, Michael Mann, Gore Verbinski, Guillermo del Toro, Edgar Wright, Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Richard Curtis, Vince Vaughn, Nancy Meyers, Fernando Mereilles, Timur Bekmambetov, Joe Wright and many others.

Shmuger stated, "It has been an extraordinary privilege to lead Universal Pictures with my partner and friend David Linde and I am grateful to Ron Meyer for his continued trust and support. I could not be more proud of the culture our entire team has created here at Universal. I think I speak on behalf of all my colleagues when I say that we all look forward to writing the next chapter in the history of this great studio."

"Marc and I truly see eye-to-eye on our vision for Universal, and it has allowed us to propel the company in the direction we charted," added Linde. "There is no greater leader in this business than Ron Meyer, and no greater team of executives than at Universal. I’m thankful we’re sticking together and continuing our journey together. Over the next few years, many of the things we’ve accomplished will come to their full fruition, and I am excited to help Universal expand its presence all around the world as a true global entertainment leader."