Kopelson was born in Brooklyn, USA. After earning a Doctorate in Jurisprudence from New York Law School, Kopelson practiced entertainment and banking law, specializing in motion picture financing, and for many years acted as counsel to numerous banks and financial institutions serving the motion picture industry.
Kopelson later formed Inter-Ocean Film Sales, Ltd. with Anne Feinberg, who would become his wife, to represent independent motion picture producers in licensing their films throughout the world and also to finance motion picture production. The Kopelsons now produce films together.
Arnold Kopelson has produced 29 motion pictures. He has been honored with an Academy Award for Best Picture, a Golden Globe Award, and an Independent Spirit Award, all for his production of Platoon. He received a Best Picture Academy Award nomination for his production of The Fugitive. Kopelson's films have been collectively responsible for 17 Academy Award nominations and over $3 billion in worldwide receipts.
Kopelson was named Producer of the Year by The National Association of Theatre Owners, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement in Filmmaking Award from Cinema Expo International, received the Motion Picture Showmanship Award from the Publicist Guild of America, and was inducted into Variety's Show Biz Expo Hall of Fame. He has also received other awards for his productions of Outbreak, Seven, and The Devil's Advocate and was further honored by the Deauville Film Festival with its highest award for his significant contribution to the entertainment industry.
With Paramount Pictures, Kopelson produced Twisted, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Andy García and Ashley Judd, which was directed by Philip Kaufman; and with 20th Century Fox, Don't Say a Word, starring Michael Douglas, and Joe Somebody, starring Tim Allen.
Kopelson also produced A Perfect Murder, also starring Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow, U.S. Marshals, starring Tommy Lee Jones, and the Costa Gavras-directed film, Mad City, starring Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta.
His other films include Eraser, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger; Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall; Out for Justice, starring Steven Seagal; Triumph of the Spirit, starring Willem Dafoe; and Murder at 1600, starring Wesley Snipes and Diane Lane.
For many years, Kopelson has served on the Executive Committee of the Producers Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is a member of the Board of Mentors of the Peter Stark Motion Picture Producing Program at the University of Southern California.
He has lectured on filmmaking at Harvard Business School, American Film Institute, Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, New York Law School, the Writers Guild of America, the Independent Feature Project West, The Kagan Seminar, University of Southern California, and University of California at Los Angeles, among other places, and has also written several articles about motion picture financing. In 1998, Kopelson received the New York Law School Distinguished Alumnus Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Arnold Kopelson has been a member of the Board of Directors of CBS Corporation since March 2007. While continuing to develop and produce motion pictures, Kopelson's activities are centered on television production.
He is married to Anne Kopelson. They have a daughter, Stephanie Lisa Kopelson, and two sons, Peter Laurence Kopelson, Evan Jared Kopelson. The Kopelsons live in Beverly Hills, California.