Universal Distribution Vet Mark Gaines Retires, Steve Bunnell to Assume Post

Universal Pictures distribution exec Mark Gaines is retiring on Monday from his post as executive VP and general sales manager.

He’s being replaced by Steve Bunnell, who’s the current senior VP and assistant general sales manager. Gaines is retiring on the heels of Universal setting records for the top domestic, international and worldwide box office, thanks to blockbuster performances by “Jurassic World” and “Furious 7.”

Gaines joined the company in 1976 as a booker in Universal’s Atlanta branch office and served as a branch manager in various southern territories. He relocated to Los Angeles as VP, division manager in 1990 and was named senior VP, national sales manager in 1994 before his promotion to his current position in 1997.

Distribution chief Nick Carpou announced the retirement in a note to staff on Friday.

“During his nearly four decades in our industry, Mark has been an integral part of a rapidly-evolving business,” Carpou said. “In the early years, there were ‘mom-and-pop’ theaters in every town. He recalls selling films in gas stations and at exhibitors’ homes over dinner. The consummate distributor, Mark once even did business at a county fair where the theater owner was selling his prize bull.”

“Mark and I have worked together closely over many years, and he has consistently proven himself as one of the most dedicated members of the Universal family. He has been a key player in Universal’s domestic theatrical success, especially as we celebrated our record-breaking achievements in 2015.”

Bunnell joined Universal earlier this year. His career began in 1981 as a film buyer for Mann Theatres and he has served in executive roles with Samuel Goldwin Company, Loews Theatres, The Weinstein Company and Cinemark Theatres.

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