When Jeff Shell was announced as the new boss of Universal one year ago, skeptics predicted a stressful transition, given the executive’s inexperience on the Hollywood firing line.They were right and they were wrong. In year one, Shell has navigated his new job cautiously and has kept his head down. While giving great latitude to his production team, he has made some key changes on the studio’s business side, ruffling feathers in the process.Shell’s background and management style is strictly...
The former Comcast exec has quietly reinvented himself as a Hollywood player since his 2013 appointment as Universal Pictures’ chairman. Shell oversees all divisions of global film operations including Universal Pictures, Fandango, Universal Pictures International, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, NBCUniversal Brand Development and DreamWorks Animation.
Over the course of his tenure, Universal has broken numerous industry records, and 2015 marked the then highest-grossing domestic, international and worldwide box office of any single year in any studio’s history. It was the first time any studio has had three films cross $1 billion dollars at the worldwide box office, with “Furious 7,” “Jurassic World,” and “Minions” all reaching that milestone. While 2016 was less impressive, the studio still had a sizable hit with the $874 million “The Secret Life of Pets.” This year, “The Fate of the Furious” became just the sixth film in history to cross $1 billion at the international box office on its way to $1.239 billion globally.
A Harvard MBA and numbers man, Shell approaches the business analytically and his background and management style are strictly corporate and solidly Comcast. He was president of the cable giant’s programming group before a move to London, where he presided over TV distribution, among other duties.