Universal Pictures is turning to former Disney executive Vince Klaseus to manage the company’s expansion into the kids and family arena.
Klaseus will serve as president of a newly created brand development division, and develop a long-term strategic plan to grow the company’s portfolio of franchises and consumer products in a sector that already includes toons from Illumination Entertainment like “Despicable Me” and the upcoming “Minions” spinoff.
He will especially focus on growing Universal’s product opportunities in the retail and non-theatrical content space.
Klaseus reports to Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Jeff Shell.
“Universal has an enormous opportunity to unify and grow our brands in a way that allows us to capitalize on existing franchises and characters and grow new ones that we can deploy across the NBCUniversal ecosystem.” Shell said. “Vince is one of the best executives in the business at leveraging innovative strategies to create successful products, and he will be a terrific leader for this new division.”
Universal Partnerships and Licensing president Stephanie Sperber will continue to lead NBCUniversal’s global consumer products, promotions, and digital gaming efforts that includes Universal Pictures, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, NBC Entertainment and Sprout. She will now report to Klaseus.
Glenn Ross, executive VP and general manager of Universal 1440 Entertainment, also will continue to head Universal Studios’ Home Entertainment’s content production arm, developing and producing kids and family entertainment for non-theatrical distribution worldwide.
Ross, who had reported to Eddie Cunningham, president of worldwide home entertainment, now also reports to Klaseus.
A long-time toy industry vet who began his career at Mattel in 1995, Klaseus has served as the CEO of Cartwheel Kids since 2012. Before that, he spent 12 years at the Walt Disney Co., helping launch the successful “Cars” toy line as the head of the company’s global toy division. He also worked in Disney’s franchise management group.