Amazon has agreed on a new corporate structure for its expanded content operations, placing most of MGM under Amazon Studios boss Jennifer Salke while promoting MGM veteran Chris Brearton.
Salke will oversee all aspects of TV and film scripts, distribution and marketing for MGM. Brearton will oversee MGM’s unscripted TV, streaming service MGM+, and he will also have the role of VP of Corporate Strategy for Prime Video and Studios. Salke and Brearton both report to Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Studios and MGM.
The moves were expected after months of speculation about how MGM would be integrated into the Amazon orbit. Hopkins confirmed the new hierarchy in a memo to employees late Tuesday.
“Jen’s outstanding reputation in the creative community has earned her the respect of Hollywood’s top talent across the industry,” wrote Hopkins. “With Jen now overseeing both studios – along with distribution and all creative marketing – creatives have a single entry point for the ability to showcase their content across all of our platforms. Serving the creative community in this way will streamline and enhance the creative process, expand our growing inventory of content, and sustain Jen’s commitment to being the home of talent.”
Amazon completed its deal to acquire MGM for $8.5 billion in March. The studio’s film executive team, consisting of Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy, left the company weeks after the transaction. Mark Burnett, the famed producer who also ran MGM TV, confirmed his departure on Monday, paving the way for the Salke and Brearton move.
Salke plans to hire a film manager to oversee feature film development and production. Julie Rapaport, who became Amazon’s sole director of films in March, will continue in that role and “support the MGM film crew as it continues to integrate,” Salke wrote in a memo. Among other changes, Sue Kroll, the Warner Bros. veteran who was hired last month to head up marketing for Amazon Studios, will also handle TV and film marketing for MGM. Vernon Sanders, who oversees TV for Amazon, will oversee MGM Scripted TV.
Salke hinted at the shuffle of coming for one in a lengthy interview diversity Cover story last month. MGM is expected to continue producing content for external buyers, in addition to serving Amazon’s growing number of platforms, including ad-supported streamer Freevee and MGM+ (the premium cable provider formerly known as Epix).
Brearton joined MGM in 2018 after years of representing the studio as an attorney at Latham & Watkins. Salke has been at the helm of Amazon Studios since 2018.
Here are the full memos sent Tuesday night by Mike Hopkins, Jen Salke and Chris Brearton:
Almost nine months ago, when we acquired MGM, we said we would approach the integration process with care and prudence. It was important to take the time to ensure the right people were working in the right places for maximum collaboration, creativity and innovation. We have made many important decisions during this time and have now completed the essential work to set up our organizational structure. I am pleased to announce that effective immediately, Jennifer Salke will become Head of Amazon and MGM Studios, overseeing MGM scripted television and films, distribution and creative marketing. I would also like to welcome Chris Brearton, who will be taking on a new role, VP, PVS Corporate Strategy, MGM+ and MGM Alternative Television.
Jen’s stellar reputation in the creative community has earned her the respect of Hollywood’s top talent across the industry. With Jen now overseeing both studios – along with distribution and all creative marketing – creatives have a single entry point for the ability to showcase their content across all of our platforms. Serving the creative community in this way will streamline and enhance the creative process, expand our growing inventory of content, and greatly strengthen Jen’s commitment to being the home for talent.
Chris Brearton runs MGM’s operations and oversees the integration with 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 driving the growth of the MGM+ premium service, while also working closely with the veteran unscripted MGM television crew to continue their legacy of mega hits like To continue Survivor, Shark Tank and The Voice. Brearton will report to me and join my senior leadership team, effective immediately.
I appreciate all the work on this integration and believe we are now better positioned to deliver on our ambitious vision with the best leaders at the helm. Throughout this process, you have continued to provide great entertainment to customers around the world. We’ve released three MGM film titles for direct-to-streaming (DTS) releases on PV, including Thirteen Lives, Anything Is Possible and Samaritan, as well as the critically acclaimed theatrical releases of Till and Bones & All. We’ve teamed up to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 007 franchise in October 2022.
With Women Talking, Boys in the Boat and Creed III, we have new high-quality storytelling offerings to bring to our customers in the coming weeks, and there’s more in the pipeline for Prime Video. In addition to the releases, we greenlit Road House with Jake Gyllenhaal and The Underdogs with Snoop Dogg. In partnership with MGM Television, we’ve greenlit and launched Shelter (based on the best-selling Harlan Coben thriller), The Consultant (starring Christoph Waltz) and A Road to a Million (a reality competition series using locations from 007 -filming) started. .
I’m so grateful for all the work you’ve done together this year and I look forward to all we can do together as we build the next phase of this rich legacy of amazing content. You’ll soon be hearing from Jen and Chris about their visions and goals for their respective organizations. Thank you all for your patience and commitment during this process.
Here is Salke’s note:
Mike just shared some news about our organizational structure and I wanted to say how proud I am to be appointed Head of Amazon and MGM Studios. It is a privilege to lead a team of such incredibly talented people. We have such an exciting opportunity ahead of us as we continue to expand our world-class studios and entertain even more people around the world.
With my additional oversight of MGM’s scripted television and film, distribution and creative marketing, I have some news to share about my leadership team. Vernon Sanders will continue to manage Amazon Television and will now oversee scripted MGM Television along with Lindsay Sloane and Rola Bauer. Julie Rapaport will continue to lead the AOM team and oversee the MGM film crew as we continue to integrate. Dan Scharf will oversee MGM’s BA and operations, as well as casting, music and production. Amazon Studios’ newly appointed chief marketing officer, Sue Kroll, will assume MGM’s responsibilities, and MGM’s chief marketing officer, Stephen Bruno, will now report to Sue. Brad Beale’s content licensing responsibilities now include MGM, with Chris Ottinger, MGM’s director of worldwide sales and acquisitions, now reporting to Brad. And Erik Lomis, head of theatrical distribution at United Artists Releasing, will report directly to me. I want to thank you all for your patience as we integrate the talented teams at MGM. And we’ll 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 industry. I am proud to be part of this great organization and look forward to all we can – and will – do together.
Here is Brearton’s memo:
I realize that we have all gone through a tremendous amount of change over the last few months. Now that the integration is complete, I’m excited for the opportunity to embrace and embrace whatever Amazon can bring to our business.
We are now ready to embark on this journey together. Led by Michael Wright as head of MGM+, Brian Edwards and Barry Poznick As head of Unscripted Television and Ted Lim overseeing corporate strategy and development, we continue to build on the legacy of MGM Studios. I have 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 a global audience.
https://variety.com/2022/biz/news/mgm-amazon-jennifer-salke-chris-brearton-1235444893/ Amazon hires Jennifer Salke and Chris Brearton to run MGM