Longtime Film-Distribution Executive Was 73 – Deadline

Bill Thompson, whose career spanned Miramax Films, Gramercy Pictures, Lot 47 and other key indie distributors, died Monday of cancer in Manhattan. He was 73.

The well-liked executive spent nearly 50 years in the film industry in distribution and exhibition.

A theatrical booker for years, Thompson held executive sales positions with leading firms from Miramax Films, Gramercy Pictures, Lot 47 Films and Bob Berney-led Newmarket Films, Picturehouse, Apparition and Film District. Before that, he held senior film-buying positions with several New York-based exhibitors, including Cinema 5, Walter Reade, Cineplex Odeon and City Cinemas.

Thompson recently received the Motion Picture Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  

“RIP: Bill Thompson, my friend and colleague from Picturehouse and several companies where we made history together,” Berney tweeted (see it below). “Bill was our inspiration to be the best we could be, loved by everyone.”

Born on August 30, 1949, in Gowanda, NY, and raised in Cattaraugus, Thompson most recently served as Cohen Media Group’s Senior VP Theatrical Sales and also was a distribution consultant with Indomina Releasing, overseeing the national release of Leos Carax’s acclaimed Holy Motors. He also consulted with Music Box Films.

For many years, Thompson taught a popular course on the film business at New York University. He also was active with the Motion Picture Club, Variety the Children’s Charity and the Motion Picture Pioneers.  

“It is with profound sadness that I am sharing that Bill passed away late last night, painlessly and peacefully, just as we hoped it would be,” wrote his wife Sherri Thompson in Facebook post. “Our daughters were with me by his side. I let him know that the Bills had won when the game ended and asked him if he was happy. He answered ‘very happy’ and those were the last words he spoke. He lived a great life and will be hugely missed by all who knew and loved him.”

Along with his wife of 43 years, Thompson is survived by their daughters, Samantha Thompson and Sarah Shugar; son-in-law Jonathan Shugar; and grandchildren Eli and Nathan Shugar.

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