Industry stalwart Christian Grass has stepped down from his role as President, Universal Pictures International Productions & Acquisitions.
The former Fox executive and co-CEO of Focus Features International had joined Universal in 2007.
A statement from UPI President David Kosse thanked Grass for his “tremendous contribution in building our international production and acquisitions division since 2007. He and the team have had notable successes such as Heartbreaker and Gainsbourg, both among the highest-grossing French films of 2010, Matthew Vaughn’s breakout hit Kick Ass, Inglourious Basterds from Quentin Tarantino and Timur Bekmambetov’s Black Lightning.”
The well-liked executive’s other notable achievements at Universal included bringing in Park Chan-wook’s Thirst and Spanish horror hit Julia’s Eye’s.
Upcoming productions include Fly Me To The Moon, the next film from Heartbreaker director Pascal Chaumeil, starring Diane Kruger and Dany Boon, and releases including Intruders directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, with Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen (debuting at the Venice Film Festival in September), Jalil Lespert’s Des Vents Contraires, starring Benoit Magimel and Audrey Tatou and Detlev Buck’s Rubbeldiekatz, with Matthias Schweighoefer and Alexandra Maria Lara.
The UPIP team will be now be aligned under Kosse’s leadership, with Clare Wise (EVP, International Production) and Alex Jooss (SVP, Business & Legal Affairs) reporting to Kosse.
John Whittle (Finance Director) will continue to report to Rowan Conn, CFO, NBCUniversal International. Dylan Wilcox and Chan Phung in LA will report to Donna Langley.
The statement from Kosse affirmed Universal’s ongoing commitment to local international production “as an important part” of its business.
However, Grass’ departure follows the shutdown of Paramount Pictures’ worldwide acquisitions and local production group last month, signalling the trend that some studios are losing their appetite for local language production.