Cable giant Comcast Corp. isn't changing the channel at Universal Studios.
Universal President Ron Meyer has signed a new contract with his bosses at Comcast that will extend his tenure until December, 2015. His previous deal had been set to expire at the end of 2012.
The extension is a vote of confidence by Comcast, which acquired the studio's parent company, NBCUniversal, in January. Many people in Hollywood had speculated that the new owner might seek to make a management change at Universal given the poor performance of its movie division over the last two years with a string of costly flops such as "Land of the Lost" and "The Wolfman."
Universal Pictures' film results have begun to improve recently with two hits: the high-octane heist sequel "Fast Five," which has grossed nearly $600 million worldwide, and the moderately budgeted comedy "Bridesmaids," which has brought in nearly $150 million domestically and is just beginning to roll out overseas.
Still, declines at the box office and in home entertainment led to an 8% drop in movie revenue for Universal during the first three months of the year and increased losses.
The new agreement keeps Meyer atop both Universal Pictures' film studio and Universal Studios' theme parks. The latter business saw improved results in the first three months of the year, largely because of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at the studio's Orlando, Fla., theme park.
Meyer was in talks with Comcast brass this year over how long to extend his new contract. Comcast had been offering a shorter time frame than the executive wanted, according to a person familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because of the confidentiality of the talks. Another knowledgeable person at the studio said Meyer proposed the end date of 2015, which will mark his 20th year on the job.
An NBCUniversal spokesman said Steve Burke, chief executive of the entertainment conglomerate and Meyer's boss, was not available to comment on why he decided to keep the studio chief in place.
The 66-year-old Meyer, who was previously a top talent agent and a co-founder of Hollywood's powerful Creative Artists Agency, is currently the longest-serving studio chief in the movie business. He has also had more corporate bosses — nine over the last 16 years — than his counterparts at other studios.
Universal is releasing the Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts comedy "Larry Crowne" on Friday, but its next big-budget bet is the science-fiction western "Cowboys & Aliens," which comes out July 29.