Amazon's film chief steps down

Jason Ropell has been with Amazon for more than six years and oversaw production, distribution and marketing for all of Amazon's original and acquired films.
Jason Ropell has been with Amazon for more than six years and oversaw production, distribution and marketing for all of Amazon's original and acquired films.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/JASON ROPELL

SAN FRANCISCO • Amazon.com on Tuesday said that Mr Jason Ropell, the executive in charge of its film division, plans to leave the company in what could signal a shift towards commercial projects and away from independent films.

Mr Ropell, who oversaw the young movie studio's first Oscar wins since taking the job in 2015, will stay with the company for several months to help with transition and strategy, the world's largest online retailer said.

Mr Ted Hope and Mr Matt Newman will run the division as interim co-heads while it searches for a replacement, Amazon said.

Until now, Ms Jennifer Salke, Amazon Studios' chief who was hired in February, had largely made personnel changes related to the company's television programming.

The move on Tuesday highlights her interest in reviewing the direction of Amazon's film slate as well.

Mr Ropell helped the streaming media service capture its first Academy Awards last year for the movie Manchester By The Sea, which won Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay. Amazon's The Big Sick (2017) was an Oscar nominee, and another project championed by Mr Ropell, the upcoming film Beautiful Boy, starring Steve Carell, has already generated Oscar buzz for next year.

Reuters reported earlier this year that Amazon expected to go after films with budgets in the US$50-million (S$68.1-million) range at the expense of indie projects costing around US$5 million.

Mr Ropell's departure could accelerate that shift. Changes to Amazon's TV line-up are already under way. Last year, it announced it will make a prequel to fantasy drama The Lord Of The Rings, in what some view as an attempt to rival HBO's global hit Game Of Thrones.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2018, with the headline 'Amazon's film chief steps down'. Print Edition | Subscribe