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The head of Amazon Studios has just been handed total control of MGM’s film and television divisions following the retail giant/streamer’s February acquisition of the storied studio behind the James Bond and Rocky/Creed franchises.
The Salke announcement is but one of multiple staffing moves announced via a trio of internal memos late Tuesday by Amazon’s Mike Hopkins, Salke herself and MGM COO Chris Brearton, who as The Hollywood Reporter exclusively reported is staying on but in a new role as vp PVS corporate strategy at MGM+ and MGM Alternative Television. (Read the memos, below.)
Salke’s formal title is head of Amazon and MGM Studios and sees her add oversight of MGM’s scripted television and film, distribution and creative marketing. Brearton also confirmed THR‘s previous report that Michael Wright will remain as president of MGM+ (currently Epix), and Barry Poznick will stay on as head of unscripted with Brian Edwards.
As for Salke, gaining full oversight of all of MGM’s assets should be considered a win in the battle for control of the studio with senior vp Mike Hopkins, to whom she also reports. Hopkins and Salke had been jockeying for control of the film division within the company, sources said. Salke is still expected to hire a film head who will report directly to her rather than to Hopkins.
With Salke now firmly in place, many dominoes now fall into place for the former NBC scripted exec. Salke continues to oversee head of television Vernon Sanders. Sanders added oversight of MGM’s scripted TV operations to his duties earlier Tuesday. Brearton, the former COO, now reports directly to Hopkins. Brearton will also oversee MGM+ president Wright as well as the studio’s alternative division.
With Salke getting film and scripted TV and Hopkins gaining linear and unscripted, the new reporting structure caps the months of speculation and industry gossip that followed Amazon closing its $8.5 billion purchase of MGM earlier this year. Since then, a series of high-profile executives have departed MGM. In April, motion picture group chairman Michael De Luca and motion picture group president Pam Abdy exited. They were followed Monday by Mark Burnett, the reality super-producer who headed MGM’s global TV operations.
Here are memos from Hopkins, Salke and Brearton:
Nearly nine months ago when we acquired MGM, we said we would take a thoughtful and measured approach to the integration process. It was important to take the time to ensure the right people were in the right jobs for maximum collaboration, creativity, and innovation. We have made many important decisions during this time, and now have completed the essential work of setting up our organizational structure. I am pleased to share that effective immediately, Jennifer Salke will become head of Amazon and MGM Studios, adding oversight of MGM scripted television and film, distribution, and creative marketing. Additionally, I’d like to welcome Chris Brearton, who will take on a new role, VP, PVS Corporate Strategy, MGM+ and MGM Alternative Television.
Jen’s outstanding reputation in the creative community has earned her the respect of Hollywood’s top talent throughout the industry. With Jen now having oversight of both studios – along with distribution and all creative marketing – creatives will have a single point of entry for the opportunity to showcase their content across all our platforms. Serving the creative community in this way will streamline and enhance the creative process, expand our growing stable of content, and strongly reinforce Jen’s commitment to being the home for talent.
Chris Brearton has been running the business of MGM and leading its integration into Prime Video and Amazon Studios. In his new role, he will lead business planning and corporate strategy for PVS. He will also oversee MGM+ and MGM Alternative, where he will be responsible for accelerating the rebrand and spearheading the growth of the MGM + premium service, while also working closely with the seasoned MGM unscripted television team to continue their legacy of megahits, such as Survivor, Shark Tank and The Voice. Brearton will report to me and join my senior leadership team, effective immediately.
I appreciate all of the work on this integration and believe we are now better positioned to deliver on our ambitious vision with very best leaders at the helm. Throughout this process you have continued to deliver great entertainment to customers around the world. We released three MGM film titles to direct-to-streaming (DTS) releases on PV including Thirteen Lives, Anything Is Possible, and Samaritan, and the critically lauded theatrical releases of Till and Bones & All. We partnered on celebrating the 60th anniversary of the 007 franchise in October 2022.
We have new quality storytelling to bring to our customers in the coming weeks with Women Talking, Boys in the Boat, and Creed III, with even more in development for Prime Video. In addition to launches, we greenlit Road House with Jake Gyllenhaal and The Underdoggs with Snoop Dogg. In partnership with MGM Television, we greenlit and commenced production on Shelter (based on the bestselling thriller novel by Harlan Coben), The Consultant (starring Christoph Waltz), and A Road to a Million (a reality competition series featuring locales from 007 movies).
I am so appreciative of all the work you’ve collectively done this year, and look forward to all we can do together as we build the next phase of this rich legacy of amazing content. You will be hearing from Jen and Chris soon about their visions and goals for their respective organizations. Thank you all for your patience and commitment throughout this process.
Mike just shared some news about our organizational structure, and I wanted to say how proud I am to be named the head of Amazon and MGM Studios. It is a privilege to lead a team of such immensely talented people. We have such an exciting opportunity ahead of us as we continue to build out our best-in-class studios and entertain even more people all over the world.
With my added oversight of MGM’s scripted television and film, distribution, and creative marketing, I have some news to share on my leadership team. Vernon Sanders will continue to run Amazon television and will now have oversight of scripted MGM television with Lindsay Sloane and Rola Bauer. Julie Rapaport will continue to run the AOM team as well as oversee the MGM film team as we continue to integrate. Dan Scharf will add oversight of MGM’s BA and business operations as well as casting, music, and production. Amazon Studios newly appointed marketing head Sue Kroll will add MGM to her purview, and MGM’s chief marketing officer Stephen Bruno will now report to Sue. Brad Beale’s content licensing remit will now include MGM, with Chris Ottinger, MGM’s head of worldwide distribution and acquisition, now reporting to Brad. And Erik Lomis, head of theatrical distribution at United Artists Releasing, will report directly to me. I’d like to thank all of you for your patience as we integrate the talented teams at MGM. And we will have more announcements to share over the next few months.
These are dynamic times for all of us in the entertainment industry. And here at Amazon and MGM Studios, we have the best leaders, creatives, and talent in the business. I am proud to be a part of this amazing organization and look forward to all that we can – and will – do together.
I realize that we’ve all been through a tremendous amount of change over the last few months. With the integration now complete, I am excited about the opportunity to harness and leverage all that Amazon can bring to our business.
We are now ready to embark on this journey together. With the leadership of Michael Wright as head of MGM+, Brian Edwards and Barry Posnick as heads of unscripted television, and Ted Lim overseeing corporate strategy and development, we continue to build on the legacy of MGM Studios. I have the utmost confidence in our team, along with the resources of Amazon and the leadership of Mike Hopkins and Jen Salke, as we continue to create brilliant content for global audiences.
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