LONDON — Stewart Till will leave his post as president of Universal Pictures Intl. at the end of January, the studio has confirmed.
Till’s exit has been in the cards since October, when U decided to continue with United Intl. Pictures instead of switching its international theatrical distribution to UPI.
At the time, U co-chairman Brian Mulligan said he was keen to find Till another senior position within the studio, but in the end, no offer was forthcoming.
After Mulligan was elevated to chief financial officer of Seagram, he is understood to have nixed a proposal to appoint Till as president of the studio, assuming many of Mulligan’s duties.
While the job does not have oversight of all of Mulligan’s responsibilities, in November the vacancy was filled instead by Rick Finkelstein, who had been junior to Till in the Polygram hierarchy.
While Universal chairman Stacey Snider assumed control of the international marketing and distribution reins she had shared with Mulligan, Finkelstein essentially acts as U’s chief dealmaker. He assumed management of the company’s business and legal affairs, strategic planning and homevid, as well as its UIP, UCI and CIC interests.
UPI will close down its theatrical distribution at the end of this year, continuing as a video operation under Peter Smith. Other execs who will be departing with Till include distribution prexy Xavier Marchand and U.K. distrib chief David Kosse.
President of marketing David Livingstone may stay on at U with a brief to oversee specialized pics being released through UIP, but no deal has been agreed upon.
Snider commented, “Stewart Till is one of the leading lights in the European film industry. His leadership of UPI has been invaluable, resulting in the production of some of the most successful European movies of all time. We wish him well and look forward to maintaining a strong relationship with him.”
Till said, “Universal Pictures is a great company and I wish them every success.”
Till’s next move
The British film industry is rife with speculation about Till’s next move. His tenure at Polygram Filmed Entertainment and UPI established him as the most powerful figure on the London movie scene. He chaired the government’s film advisory committee and has been appointed vice chair of the new Film Council, with his friend and ally Alan Parker as chairman.
The question is whether London has any film exec jobs big enough for him, or whether he will attempt to launch his own venture. With stints in advertising, music, video and satellite TV, Till will not find his choices limited to the film business.