TV & Movies

Amazon and MGM Finally Hires Its Film Chief: Courtenay Valenti

Courtenay Valenti, a former executive at Warner Bros., has been named the new film head at both Amazon and MGM Studios. Amazon and MGM Studios head Jennifer Salke made the announcement in a memo to staff on Tuesday. Read her announcement below.

The news comes as Amazon looks to make a big push into theatrical, starting with the Ben Affleck film “Air.” Valenti will take over for interim head Julie Rapaport. Valenti begins on March 1 as Head of Film, Streaming and Theatrical, reporting directly to Salke.

Valenti had been rumored and was being vetted for the gig for months, and the oversight of MGM’s film team was the last stone left unturned in the wake of Amazon’s big re-organization back in November. Sources told IndieWire in that span she’s the one for the job, especially if Amazon is serious about its theatrical ambitions.

Previously, Valenti was President of Production and Development at Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Bros. Feature Animation, spending 33 years with the studio that saw her handling half of the Harry Potter films, “The Lego Movie,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” and more.

Valenti is also joining Amazon not long after the former MGM film chiefs, Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy, shifted over to Warner Bros., exiting Amazon/MGM some months after Amazon closed an $8.5 billion deal to acquire the studio back in the spring of 2022. Curiously, De Luca and Abdy are the ones leading the charge on a set of new “Lord of the Rings” theatrical films that could rival Amazon’s own “Rings of Power” series.

Read Salke’s memo below:

Hi team,

It’s been nearly a year since Amazon acquired MGM, and through that time I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the MGM team and their work. I’ve been so impressed by the creativity and innovation and by the quality of the MGM slate, including Orion Pictures. These films have been a terrific complement to our Amazon Originals, and I’d like to thank Julie Rapaport for the amazing job she has done as the interim head of both film groups.

Our strategy now encompasses an expanded investment in film, including a robust theatrical plan and growing streaming program, in order to bring even more movies to film lovers all over the world. A key part of this strategy has been taking a focused and deliberate approach to ensure we have the right people in place to execute our creative vision. To that end, I’m pleased to announce that Courtenay Valenti is joining us on March 1 as Head of Film, Streaming and Theatrical, overseeing all films for Amazon and MGM Studios, reporting to me. Courtenay is a seasoned executive with more than three decades of experience in the industry, strong ties with filmmakers and creatives, and an outstanding reputation for excellence, from producing blockbuster movies to developing new franchises. Under her leadership, the team will continue to carefully curate our slate to deliver a well-rounded selection of tentpoles, prestige films, and genre fare.

Courtenay was most recently President of Production and Development at Warner Bros., overseeing the film slates for both Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Bros. Feature Animation. During her 33 years with the company, she oversaw numerous successes including the last four Harry Potter films, “The Great Gatsby,” “Fantastic Beasts,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Lego Movie,” “Lego Batman,” “You’ve Got Mail,” and “The Intern.” She also played a central role in developing and shepherding the Oscar-winning “Happy Feet” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” as well as this year’s Academy Award nominated Elvis. Given her extraordinary track record in the film business, it’s an honor to have her join us.

We’re well positioned for the future, and Julie is a big part of that. Recent successes achieved under her leadership include Being the Ricardos, Catherine Called Birdy, Goodnight Oppy, My Policeman, and Sundance award winners Emergency and Nanny. Upcoming titles Julie has also overseen include Air, Red One, Candy Cane Lane, Saltburn, Foe, The Burial and Cassandro as well the MGM titles Creed III, Challengers and Road House. Julie will continue to oversee the slate for Amazon Originals and MGM in her new role as Head of Film Creative and Strategy, reporting to Courtenay. I’ll have more to share about our team in the coming weeks.

Courtenay and Julie share a passion for storytelling and for storytellers, and together they will give us an even stronger creative edge and enhance our distinctive place as the Home for Talent.

I know you’ll join me in welcoming Courtenay to the team.

Jen

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