Christian Grass has been named president of international production and acquisitions at Universal Pictures International (UPI).

The move came on Thursday [11] as Universal chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chairman Donna Langley announced they were streamlining the studio’s global production and distribution business and showing recognition of the international production group’s contributions to the growth of UPI. 

Grass, who currently serves as co-CEO of Focus Features International (FFI), will now report to David Kosse, who recently took on an expanded role as president of international for Universal Pictures, and also to Langley.

Grass’ team includes executive vice-president of international production Clare Wise. The international acquisitions team led by Dylan Wilcox will continue to acquire films for UPI and Focus Features.

Focus Features CEO James Schamus and President Andrew Karpen will continue to run Focus Features and Focus Features International (FFI) with president of international sales and distribution Alison Thompson. They will maintain close collaboration with Grass’ team on projects, as they did on Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre, Park Chan-wook’s Thirst; and Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces.

Grass has led the international production group for Universal since October 2007. His team’s hits include the Russian co-production Black Lightning with Timur Bekmambetov’s Bazelevs Productions and the Studio 37 and One World French co-production Serge Gainsbourg (Vie Heroique).

The international production group has also overseen the acquisition and production of major international projects including Inglourious Basterds with the Weinstein Company, the Step Up franchise from Summit Entertainment International, and the acquisition from Mandate International of Kick-Ass for select territories, starting with the UK on April 2.

The majority of films developed by the international production group have been released through UPI in their local markets.

“The work Christian has done both as part of Universal and FFI has helped position us as a global leader in the production, finance and distribution of films made primarily for non-US markets,” Langley said. “Under the new structure, he and his team can continue to play an integral role in our production and acquisitions business which is an important component in our plan to expand Universal’s global operations.” 

“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved the international production division in building relationships with high-calibre filmmakers and production companies around the world,” Grass said. “Working with David Kosse and his team at UPI, we’ll continue to leverage these relationships to build on our success with local and international productions and acquisitions while still being able to work closely with Focus and Focus Features International on select films.”

Upcoming releases from the international production group include the Bill Kong title True Legend that premieres in the festival and is being sold by FFI; Teufelskicker [Hotshots], from UFA CINEMA, to be released in Germany on March 11; L’Arnacoeur [Heartbreaker], a French co-production with Quad starring Romain Duris and Vanessa Paradis to be released in France on March 17; Una Canzone Per Te  [A Song For You], from Cattleya, to be released in Italy on May 28; and Los Ojos De Julia [Julia’s Eyes], directed by Guillem Morales and produced by Guillermo del Toro, to be released in Spain in October.