Walak was appointed president of Focus Features, the specialty studio owned by Universal, in February 2016. Before moving to Los Angeles two years ago, he was based in London and served as co-managing director of Universal Pictures International Productions, which was later absorbed into the umbrella of Focus Features. In his advisory role, Walak will continue to work on projects he helped bring into development at Focus.
Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski addressed the move and praised Walak in a statement, saying, “Personally, I have been incredibly lucky to work with someone who is not only a good friend, but a role model for excellent taste, know-how and commitment to the belief that great films can change the world. Collectively, we have all been incredibly lucky to work with an individual who prioritizes colleagues and artists as people first and who shepherds projects and processes with a sense of empathy and joy that is as productive as it is infectious.”
Walak added, “When we took over the leadership at Focus over four years ago, we strove to create a home for top-class filmmakers to bring their distinctive stories to a global theatrical audience and we achieved that. I’m stepping down from my role knowing that Focus has one of the most exciting and diverse slates going forward. I’m excited to continue collaborating with Peter, Jason and the unmatched team at Focus in my new role and look forward to future projects.”
While at Focus, he worked on titles including the Oscar-winning war drama “The Darkest Hour,” the movie adaptation of “Downton Abbey” and Spike Lee’s acclaimed “BlacKkKlansman.”
Prior to joining Focus, Walak spent two years at the Weinstein Company and helped the indie studio acquire a number of hits, such as Todd Haynes’ “Carol,” “Paddington” and “Lion.” He also previously worked at eOne, Endemol and MTV Europe.
Deadline Hollywood first reported the news.