Amazon Studios has promoted Julie Rapaport to co-head of movies.
She will head the film division with Ted Hope and Matt Newman, but her portfolio will be different. Rapaport, who has been with Amazon since 2015, is being tasked with finding more broadly commercial films.
Her promotion comes at a time of change for the e-retailer’s entertainment division. The film unit has been floundering in recent months, fielding a string of flops that includes “Life Itself,” a critically reviled drama that premiered to a disastrous $2.1 million. It also struck out with the likes of “You Were Never Really Here,” “Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot,” and “Wonder Wheel,” a Woody Allen drama that premiered as the #MeToo movement brought renewed attention on sexual abuse allegations against the filmmaker. Amazon’s last major hit was 2017’s “The Big Sick,” an Oscar-nominated comedy that earned $56.4 million globally.
Amazon is still looking to replace Jason Ropell, the worldwide head of motion pictures who announced he was stepping down from the company in July. Rapaport’s promotion comes as newly minted Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke is beginning to make her mark on the film division. Salke was previously NBC entertainment president, where she helped develop hits such as “This Is Us” and the “Chicago” procedural franchise. She was brought in to replace Roy Price, who was forced to resign from the company in October after being accused of sexual harassment.
Rapaport’s division will oversee films with larger budgets.The new division’s projects will include titles such as “Lucy and Desi” scripted by Aaron Sorkin about Lucille Ball and her stormy marriage to Desi Arnaz, and Union scripted by Robert Schenkkan, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt attached to produce, about the head of the post-Civil War infantry tasked with fighting the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.
“Keeping in mind the diverse range of tastes of our Prime Video customers, we are focused on continually expanding our content offerings,” said Salke. “I want to stress that across series and movies, all divisions hold quality first and foremost as their bar. With Julie joining Ted and Matt, this clears the pathway to further expand our robust movies slate to include more widely engaging stories that audiences will connect with. Julie is a talented and highly respected creative executive and leader and we are thrilled to see her step into this expansive role.”
Rapaport joined Amazon in 2015 from the Weinstein Company, where she worked in production and development. In her job as senior manager, development, production and acquisitions, oversaw the upcoming “Beautiful Boy” starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet, as well as Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying” and Mike White’s “Brad’s Status.”
With Rapaport handling movies with more broad appeal, Hope, an indie veteran, will be tasked with overseeing prestige titles from auteurs. Newman is Amazon Film’s head of strategic initiatives and international distribution. Upcoming Amazon releases include Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria,” Mike Leigh’s “Peterloo,” and Felix Van Groeningen’s “Beautiful Boy.”