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Focus Features CEO Peter Schlessel to Exit as Unit Merges With Universal Pictures International

Schlessel to leave April 1 as Peter Kujawski becomes chairman of new global unit

Focus Features CEO Peter Schlessel will exit his post come April, as the studio division merges with Universal Pictures International Productions.

Peter Kujawski, current Managing Director of UPIP, will assume the role in the newly-integrated Focus as Chairman.

The rebranding, announced by Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley, also sees UPIP Co-Managing Director Robert Walak as President of the division and Universal Pictures’ Film Strategy EVP Abhijay Prakash named COO.

Current Focus COO Adrian Alperovich, Marketing head Christine Birch and President of Acquisitions, Lia Buman, are all leaving in step with Schlessel.

Focus’ recommitment to speciality films is behind the staff change, according to Langley.

“When we decided to make genre, wide-release films part of Universal’s main slate and return Focus Features primarily to specialty product, Peter Schlessel and I mutually agreed that it was the right time for him to leave the company as his interests are not solely focused on the specialized film marketplace,’ Langley said in a statement.

“He has been a terrific leader for Focus for the past two years.”

Schlessel will oversee the release of  “Race,” Gerard Butler‘s “London Has Fallen” and “The Young Messiah” before his departure.