Film production veteran Stacey Snider and business affairs executive Brian C. Mulligan were named co-chairs of Universal Pictures on Thursday, making official what had been a de facto working arrangement at the studio.
Both executives will report to Ron Meyer, president of Seagram Co.'s Universal Studios Inc. They replace Casey Silver, who was fired last November as head of the studio after a long dry spell that included such expensive flops as "Meet Joe Black" and "Babe: Pig in the City."
In making the announcement, Universal said both executives will have the authority to put films into production. But Universal executives stressed that the arrangement will likely be a collaborative one, in consultation with Meyer.
"We have a very disciplined and collaborative approach to these decisions. I don't anticipate that changing," Snider said.
For the last few months, Universal has enjoyed success at the box office with pictures started during Silver's regime or acquired in Seagram's purchase of PolyGram. They include "Patch Adams," "The Mummy," "Life" and "Notting Hill." Universal also has such promising films as "American Pie," "Bowfinger" and "Mystery Men" on the horizon.
"I think there is a feeling this momentum is going to continue. There will always be bumps in the road, but we're on the right track," Mulligan said.
Filmmakers with close ties to Universal applauded the move.
"I think this may be the best motion picture team Universal has ever had," said director and producer Steven Spielberg. Despite being a partner in studio DreamWorks SKG, Spielberg still has a number of projects at Universal, including a sequel to "The Flintstones" and a third "Jurassic Park" film he will produce, but not direct.
Spielberg said he's known Snider for years. "She has good taste, and a great track record for connecting her choices to the choices audiences are always making," Spielberg said.
Before joining Universal in late 1996 as co-head of production, Snider was president of production at Sony Corp.'s Tri-Star Pictures. Before that, she was an executive vice president at Guber-Peters Entertainment Co.
An eight-year Universal veteran and a former accountant, Mulligan is one of only a handful of senior executives at the company who worked there during the pre-Seagram days when it was headed by legend Lew Wasserman and Sid Sheinberg. Most recently, Mulligan worked to integrate PolyGram's film and TV operations into Universal's businesses.