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THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100

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    14. Nikki Rocco
    14
    Nikki Rocco
    President, Universal Pictures Distribution

    Rocco knows a thing or two about the transition to digital media. An avid cookbook collector -- she inherited a cache of them from her mother -- she has found herself giving away more and more of them lately. "I'm addicted to going online now," she says.

    During her all-encompassing day job as Universal's head of distribution, she also finds herself right in the middle of that larger transition as theaters have moved from analog prints to digital projection. "Physically, it makes delivery easier, less mishaps," she says, but it has put her in a tricky position at times with the theater owners who are her primary customers.

    THR's 2011 Women in Entertainment Power 100

    In October, Universal announced an early VOD test offering of Tower Heist, but theater chains threatened not to book the movie, forcing the studio to back down. "My main responsibility is to bring in as much revenue as I can, and the only way I can do that is to maintain great relationships with my customers," she says. "We try to work as partners and in the digital world, we see opportunities and we eventually have to convince exhibition to be our partners there. With Tower Heist, we may have lost the battle, but we haven't lost the war."

    While her year got off to a slow start -- movies like The Dilemma disappointed -- it picked up when Fast Five topped $200 million, in part due to a well-timed April release in advance of the summer crush. And it hit a high point with Bridesmaids, which defied all expectations on its way to $169 million domestic.

    Says Rocco, 62, who lives in Calabasas with her husband, Joseph, a retired financial planner, "It's always a pleasure to release a film that is a total surprise. It just held on from week to week, and there is nothing better than that for a distributor."

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