Top Gallic distrib’n exex exit

PARIS — The Gallic distribution arms of two Hollywood majors have started the New Year looking for new heads.

After weeks of speculation, Bruno Chatelin’s departure from the UFD distribution joint venture between Fox and Gallic major UGC is now official, although no exact date has yet been fixed for Chatelin to ankle.

At the same time, Warner Bros.’ Paris-based distrib chief Steve Rubin is also known to be negotiating his exit after a year which has seen Warners’ market share of the Gallic box office fall by almost half.

Chatelin, who has been running UFD since it was officially launched in July 1995, told Daily Variety, “It’s been a fascinating challenge launching the new distribution company and I think we haven’t done badly to position ourselves in the top four distributors in France after a year and a half.”

Although he refused to comment on the exact reasons for his decision to ankle, it is widely believed that Chatelin became increasingly frustrated as he found it difficult to concentrate sufficient energy on individual releases because of the high volume of pics passing through UFD.

Last year the company put no fewer than 40 films into French hardtops, more than any other distribution company, including market leader and fellow joint venture Gaumont/Buena Vista Intl.

Chatelin is expected to stay on at UFD for a couple of months until Fox and UGC come up with a replacement.

One name that was being touted last week as a possible replacement for Chatelin was that of Rubin. Neither Warner Bros. nor Rubin has made any official comment on Rubin’s status, but it is an open secret in Paris that Warner’s Gallic distribution chief is leaving.

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