Focus Features’ new leadership team under incoming CEO Peter Schlessel will be a blend of executives from both Focus and Film District — but it won’t include current Focus co-CEO Andrew Karpen.
Following the ouster of Focus CEO James Schamus, Karpen was asked to be a part of the new Focus Features in Los Angeles, but is deciding instead to leave the company and remain in New York with his family, according to a Tuesday release from Universal. He will remain in his current role to help with the transition.
“After giving this opportunity much consideration, I’ve decided that this is simply not the right time for me to relocate my family to Los Angeles,” said Karpen, who was just named to the post in May. “I’m incredibly proud of all that we’ve accomplished at Focus, and know that the new company will thrive under Peter’s leadership.”
Schlessel expressed his disappointment that Karpen wouldn’t be convinced to relocate, “but I greatly respect his commitment to his family and life in New York.
“However, he will be a valuable resource as the new management team moves forward on the foundation that he was instrumental in establishing over the last several years.”
Focus’ new leadership will be comprised of key executives from within the ranks of both Focus Features and FilmDistrict. The comings-and-goings include:
FilmDistrict execs taking over at Focus:
Adrian Alperovich, COO; Christine Birch, marketing president; Jim Orr, distribution president; and Lia Buman, president of acquisitions.
Focus execs staying in current roles:
Adriene Bowles, president of publicity and executive VP of marketing; Jeb Brody, president of production.
David Brooks, Focus’ marketing president; and Jack Foley, Focus’ distribution president. Both will stay on for the transition.
Elissa Greer, FilmDistrict’s senior VP of publicity, becomes an independent contractor.
“I am pleased to announce the executive management team that will help me lead Focus Features into its next chapter,” said Schlessel. “These executives will work with me in the coming weeks to round out the balance of our staffing needs for the company.”
Buman and Brody will work together to shape Focus’ slate.
Focus Features will release “Dallas Buyers Club” starring Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto beginning Nov. 1 in a platform release. In a highly competitive bidding process at the Toronto International Film Festival, Focus acquired worldwide distribution rights to Jason Bateman‘s feature directorial debut “Bad Words.”
But perhaps Focus’ highest-profile project is “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the adaptation of E.L. James erotic thriller, which just lost its male lead in Charlie Hunnam. Sources tell TheWrap that the Focus exec most involved with the project is Brody — meaning the executive shakeup should have little impact on that film.
Under Schlessel’s leadership FilmDistrict has established itself as a successful U.S. distributor and acquirer of feature films including the recent high-profile openings of “Looper,” “Drive,” “Insidious: Chapter 2,” “Olympus Has Fallen,” “Evil Dead” and “Safety Not Guaranteed,” among other titles. Upcoming FilmDistrict releases that are slated to open this year include Spike Lee’s “Oldboy.”