Tom Pollock, the former chairman of Universal Pictures and the American Film Institute, has died, TheWrap has learned from longtime law partner Alan Hergott and screenwriter Nicholas Meyer. Pollock was 77.
As an entertainment lawyer and later a producer and studio head, Pollock helped several iconic filmmakers get their start and oversaw the release of some of the most famous blockbusters ever released. As a lawyer starting his own firm in 1970, one of his first clients was George Lucas, who he took on as he was working on his debut film “THX-1138.” Pollock later helped Lucas secure a fortune by negotiating the merchandising and sequel rights to “Star Wars.”
He went on to be instrumental in initiating production of the “Indiana Jones” and “Superman” film franchises.
In 1986, he became EVP of MCA and Chairman of Universal Pictures, overseeing the release of multiple record-breaking box office hits and Oscar winners, including “Jurassic Park,” the “Back to the Future” sequels, “Schindler’s List” and “Field of Dreams.” In 1996, he left to become chairman of the American Film Institute and founded the Montecito Picture Company two years later, serving as an executive producer on the 2009 Oscar-nominated film “Up in the Air.”
Pollock also served as an adjunct film professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, lending his name to the school’s Pollock Theater, where screenings and guest presentations by filmmakers are held. As AFI Chairman, he oversaw the production of the institute’s “100 Years…100 Movies” TV special. After stepping down as chairman, he continued to serve as vice-chair of the AFI board and head of the AFI Awards jury until his death.
“We are incredibly saddened by the loss of Tom Pollock. He played a critical role in securing our Studio’s legacy, and was an extraordinary executive, influential attorney, and a dear friend to so many of us,” said NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer in a statement. “We will forever feel his impact on our company and within our industry. On behalf of everyone at Universal, we send our deepest condolences to his family and honor his extraordinary accomplishments.”
Pollock is survived by three children and four grandchildren. The cause of death is not currently known.