Al Shapiro, president of domestic theatrical distribution for the highly successful independent film company New Line Cinema, has died at the age of 57.
Shapiro died Sunday in Los Angeles after a brief illness, company officials announced.
In his four-decade career, Shapiro moved from usher to executive. At New Line, where he worked for the past 13 years, he was in charge of a staff of 55 and had responsibility for tailoring release patterns for about 30 films a year produced by the company. He was credited with helping New Line grow from a niche-oriented film production and distribution concern into one of the industry's most prominent independent studios.
Among other films, Shapiro oversaw distribution of the two top-grossing "Austin Powers" movies, "Boogie Nights," "Wag the Dog," "Mortal Kombat" and "Shine."
Born in Brooklyn, Shapiro began his motion picture career modestly in 1957--as an usher at Walter Reade theaters in Long Branch, N.J. He worked his way through Monmouth University in West Long Branch as a theater manager, and after graduation became a division manager for the chain A.I.T. Theaters.