Eric Brune, currently sales director at French distributor UGC Fox Distribution (UFD), is to replace Richard Dassonville as CEO of Columbia TriStar's French outpost.

Prior to UFD, where he has spent the last five years, the 38-year-old Brune has worked at Pathe, Disney and Warner.

UFD - a joint venture between French major film group UGC and Fox, on the Gaumont Buena Vista International (GBVI) model, and headed by Steve Rubin - ranked first among distributors in France in 1998, second in 1999 and is currently ranking fifth.

Along the same lines as GBVI, UFD releases both US and French titles and currently has a hit French comedy with Gerard Jugnot's Meilleur Espoir Feminin.

Columbia TriStar's upcoming releases include Fortress 2, The Patriot, What Planet Are You From, Whatever It Takes and The Hollow Man.

Brune's appointment and Dassonville's departure are the latest moves in an on-going game of musical chairs in the French distribution sector. Last month, Franck Chorot left his post as the head of UIP's French office to replace Pierre-Ange Le Pogam as Gaumont's deputy general manager in charge of worldwide marketing and distribution (Screendaily May 3).