Nikki Rocco, the the first woman ever to become president of a major studio’s theatrical distribution operations, will retire as Universal Pictures president of domestic distribution after 47 years with the studio.
Rocco began her career at the studio in 1967, while she was a 17-year-old high school senior. She is one of the longest-serving employees at Universal. She has served as president of domestic distribution since 1996.
“Nikki Rocco is one of the hardest working, most loyal people I’ve ever known, and I’ve cherished every moment we have worked together at this company,” said NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer. “She has an impeccable reputation as one of the smartest, most dedicated people in film, and in her 47 years with the studio she’s truly become part of Universal’s DNA.”
Following her retirement at the end of this year, she will become a consultant to Universal on domestic distribution. Under Rocco’s leadership in 2013, Universal not only celebrated its best year ever at the domestic box office, with total grosses of $1.42 billion, the studio also crossed the $1 billion marker faster than any other time in its history.
“Nikki Rocco is an industry icon, and in the short time I’ve been with the company it’s been clear why she is held in such high regard,” said Chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Jeff Shell. “After 47 years, her retirement is well-deserved, but in the meantime we’ll be requesting every last ounce of time and effort that she is graciously willing to give us.”
Rocco is known as an innovator and a staunch proponent of using the entire calendar year to release films, rather than opting for traditional release date corridors.
“Universal has been my home longer than any other home I’ve had, so it’s hard to imagine not coming to the Lot every day and not crunching numbers with my team every weekend,” said Rocco. “I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the industry’s best and most talented executives, filmmakers and exhibitors, and I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished together. While this was a hard decision for me, I am excited to spend time with family and friends and travel … but I’ll likely still be up at 4 a.m. checking box-office numbers.”