Michael Goldman, Top International Film Sales Executive of the 1980s, Dies at 80

Courtesy Independent Film & Television Alliance
Michael Goldman

He served two terms as chairman of the American Film Marketing Association and helped launch AFM.

Michael Goldman, a prominent international film sales executive in the 1980s and two-time chairman of the American Film Marketing Association, has died. He was 80.

Goldman died Tuesday in Los Angeles of complications from Parkinson's disease, a spokesperson for the Independent Film & Television Alliance announced.

Goldman built and owned leading international film sales company Manson International, which was started by his father, Edmund, a former executive at Columbia Pictures. 

Notable titles under his watch included Scanners (1981), directed by David Cronenberg; Mother Lode (1982), starring and produced by Charlton Heston; The Concrete Jungle (1982), starring Jill St. John; two films starring Linda Blair, Chained Heat (1983) and Savage Streets (1984); Robert Altman's Streamers (1983); and The Terry Fox Story (1983), about a real-life amputee who runs across Canada to raise money for cancer research.

Manson also discovered Renny Harlin and was central to the production of the Finnish director's first feature, Born American (1986).

Goldman was a founding member of the American Film Marketing Association (now known as IFTA), which represents independent producers and distributors worldwide, and he helped launch the American Film Market in 1981.

He was AFMA's first CFO and served as its chairman from 1984-85 and 1991-93. He remained active in the organization throughout its first 25 years, also serving as vice chairman-secretary from 1999-2001.

"Key AFMA programs such as AFMA Arbitration and AFMA Collections had their origins during Michael's tenure, and his fingerprints are all over the governance structure that took AFMA from a loose collaboration to a more formal structure," IFTA president and CEO Jean Prewitt said in a statement. "The strong association that exists today grew out of Michael Goldman's commitment to the independent industry." 

Born in 1939 in the Philippines, Goldman lived in Manila until 1942 and again from 1945-50. He and his family moved to Tokyo and then, in 1953, to Beverly Hills, where he graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1957. 

After a brief stint in the U.S. Army, Goldman graduated from UCLA business school in 1962 with a specialty in marketing and accounting. He joined Manson soon after college and took over its operations in 1975, selling rights to new projects and movies to overseas distributors on a territory-by-territory basis.

Under his leadership, Manson handled foreign sales on more than 350 titles over the years. Goldman took full advantage of the changes VHS and video brought to the industry and personally supervised the marketing of 60 indies in the U.S. 

After 1975, Manson ceased to distribute films in the States as Goldman focused on international licensing, and Manson Distributing Corp. became Manson International in the early '80s. In 1986, the company was purchased by Winstar Inc. (Its library currently resides within MGM.)

Goldman also was a member of the UCLA Chancellor's Associates and, since 1979, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where he served on several executive committees.

Survivors include his wife, Giulia; sons Mathew and Nicholas and their wives, Junna and Cortney, respectively; grandchildren Lucas and Elliott; stepchildren Gustavo and Letizia; and sister Lorelei.

Donations in his name may be made to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.