A day after Paramount’s sudden sacking of over a hundred employees, Universal Pictures is undergoing some major restructuring in its speciality divisions.
In a shock announcement, Peter Schlessel will take over from longtime chief James Schamus at Focus Features starting in January.
The swap takes place as Focus gives up its New York City offices and relocates its operations to Los Angeles.
Schlessel runs indie distributor FilmDistrict and, despite not officially purchasing it, that company will now be absorbed by Focus.
As a result, all FilmDistrict movies slated for release after January will now go out through the new Focus Features which will expand its slate to ten films a year and cover a broader type of film.
Schamus is leaving to work with Ang Lee on Lee’s untitled 3D boxing movie about the Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier fights.
It was recently announced that Peter Morgan will come onboard to script that project over the course of the next year. The film itself won’t hit cinemas until 2016.