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Kornblau Upped

4 May, 2007 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Universal's Craig Kornblau

Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Craig Kornblau has been given expanded duties by the division's parent company and will now be in charge of global digital activities as well as home entertainment.

Kornblau, who assumed the presidency of Universal's home entertainment division in March 1999, becomes one of just two top executives with both packaged media and digital under their domain. The other is Warner Bros. Entertainment Group president Kevin Tsujihara.

Kornblau adds president, Universal Pictures Digital Platforms, to his title. He will oversee worldwide electronic sellthrough and HD DVD, domestic video-on-demand, the advanced technology group and the digital-entertainment group, which is responsible for all wireless, mobile and interactive-gaming platforms.

Kornblau, who as president of Universal's home entertainment division oversees domestic home video, worldwide consumer products and direct-to-video productions, will continue to report to Rick Finkelstein, vice chairman of Universal Pictures, and to David Linde, co-chairman of Universal Pictures.

Kornblau has built Universal Studios Home Entertainment into one of the major studios' strongest and most respected home video divisions. He is considered a pioneer in event marketing and franchise exploitation, and has recently emerged as the de facto spokesman for the HD DVD next-generation camp, waging an uphill fight against Blu-ray Disc and its contingent of supportive studios.

“He was a pioneer when DVD began ratcheting up, and he was one of the first executives to give digital distribution serious consideration,” noted one veteran industry observer.

“I'm pleased to expand into the digital arena,” Kornblau said. “The way consumers bring entertainment into their lives is evolving and broadening. I'm very excited about addressing the big-picture issues and challenges that lie ahead in navigating the uncharted waters in emerging and next-generation distribution and exhibition platforms.”

Universal Pictures EVP Michael Joe also has been given oversight of the studio's international-based local-language film production activities, as well as worldwide acquisitions. He also will be the studio's primary operational contact with Focus Features/Rogue Pictures.

Joe will continue to run business development and serve as the company's chief strategy officer, defining Universal's windowing policies, global strategies and long-term growth plans. He will also continue to represent Universal Pictures on anti-piracy and public-policy matters. In addition, Joe will work closely with Finkelstein as Universal's chief point person on both single-picture and slate-equity financial deals. He reports to Universal Pictures chairman Marc Shmuger and Linde.

International electronic sellthrough and VOD sales will be consolidated under Beth Minehart, who will continue to report to Belinda Menendez on VOD and to Kornblau on electronic sellthrough.

Eddie Cunningham will continue to head Universal Pictures International Entertainment and oversee international marketing and distribution of home entertainment product.

“Craig and MJ have demonstrated exceptional ability in recognizing opportunities in the changing landscape of our business,” Shmuger and Linde said in a joint statement. “Craig's many accomplishments in leading home entertainment, and his contributions to digital distribution, make the grouping of digital activities under him an ideal fit.

“MJ has excelled at working strategically across all divisions of our studio, and has been especially effective in meeting our global growth initiatives. We congratulate both MJ and Craig on their new responsibilities and look forward to continued outstanding contributions from each of them.”

Earlier this year, Universal restructured its home entertainment division, consolidating marketing for home entertainment and theatrical into one group.

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