Ed Frumkes, the president of international distribution and marketing for Warner Bros Pictures, is to leave the studio when his contract expires in December.

The 13 year-old veteran of the studio, who took over from Wayne Duband as head of Warner International in Feb 1996, leaves on a high, after his division delivered a total $1.1bn international gross in 1999 from such hits as The Matrix, Eyes Wide Shut and You've Got Mail.

Frumkes' future plans are as yet unknown. "I know for me it is simply the perfect time to take on new challenges and explore new horizons," he said in a statement. "I will miss Warner Bros, I will miss my many friends and colleagues here, but I am very excited about the future - whatever it holds."

"We will be sorry to see Ed go, but we respect him and his decision," said Alan Horn, president and chief operating officer of the studio. "We wish him nothing but the best in whatever he chooses to do in the future - unless of course he ends up working for a competitor and then we wish him second best. Ed made his decision early because it was important to him that we would have plenty of time and opportunity to search for his successor as well as for him to oversee a smooth and seamless transition."

Meanwhile Richard Fox, executive vice president of international at Warner Bros, will head a transitional team to assess future strategy for the Warner Bros Pictures International department. Frumkes had built a strong team including Sue Kroll, the well-known senior vice president of marketing.

Frumkes joined Warner Bros in 1988 as director of the international theatrical division and was promoted to vice president in 1989, senior vice president in 1992 and executive vice president in 1993. Prior to joining Warner, he held a number of positions in advertising and publicity at Columbia Pictures.

During his time as executive vice president, Frumkes was responsible for opening the Asian markets for Warner, negotiating a ground-breaking revenue sharing deal in China for The Fugitive in 1993 and expanding Warner businesses in Korea and Indonesia.

This year Frumkes will oversee the foreign releases of pictures including: Wolfgang Petersen's The Perfect Storm; Clint Eastwood's Space Cowboys; animated sequel Pokemon 2; and The Replacements starring Keanu Reeves.

Several domestic Warner releases - notably those produced by Franchise Pictures in association with Morgan Creek - will not be released worldwide by the studio including Battlefield Earth, Get Carter, The Art Of War and The Pledge.