LEADERSHIP: With DVD sales flattening in top global markets, Cunningham and Universal are placing greater emphasis on creating more local content while developing the HD DVD business.
At the same time, the studio’s international disc business has placed itself at the forefront of the push into Russia and other emerging markets now controlled by pirates.
So far, Cunningham says U has had “phenomenal” success in selling discs for $5-$6 in Russia, where it also distributes films for Warner Bros.
Unlike the theatrical division, which split operations from Paramount only last year, Universal has run its DVD business separately from Paramount for the past seven years.
A longtime U.K. DVD exec, Cunningham took over the helm of Universal’s international disc operations earlier this year from Pete Smith, who was upped to president of NBCU Intl.
POV: “Content is first and foremost,” says Cunningham. “From a Universal perspective, we’re investing more in the filmmaking business than ever before.”