EXCLUSIVE: Big move over at Amazon Studios. Ted Hope has decided to exit as Co-Head of Movies to go back to his origins as a producer. Next week, he will enter a multi-year, first-look deal with Amazon Studios. This is all very amicable, and I’m told that Amazon chief and Hope’s boss Jennifer Salke has just divulged the news internally.
Hope came to Amazon in 2015 as head of the Development, Production and Acquisitions team, and he was elevated to co-Head of Movies in July, 2018. He has been running the film division along with Julie Rapaport and Matt Newman, who’ve been Co-Heads of Movies. She came to Amazon from The Weinstein Company, while he grew at Amazon on the business side. They are well regarded and will take over steering the division, with Scott Foundas continuing as senior executive and Christian Davin as Head of Marketing. They all report to Salke.
Hope started his career as a seminal indie producer, and a lot of his influence went toward establishing Amazon as a tastemaker label with films including The Big Sick and Manchester By The Sea. He first made his mark establishing Good Machine with James Schamus and David Linde as an important maker of indie films that included such triumphs as early Ang Lee films like The Ice Storm, Todd Solondz’ Happiness and Todd Field’s In The Bedroom. He moved from there with Anne Carey and Anthony Bregman to form This Is That, and later served a stint as Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society before moving to Amazon and helping to establish the film program, which initially was acquisition-driven.
Here is the memo that Salke just sent out internally:
Hello Team –
I’m writing today to update you on some changes to the Movies team. Ted Hope will be transitioning from his co-head role and returning to his passion of producing. Ted approached me earlier this year and expressed his feelings about taking on a new challenge. Over the course of several months and many conversations I came to realize Ted is a producer through and through and that now is the right time for both him and the studio to make a change. I couldn’t be happier for Ted as he takes on this new adventure.
Beginning June 2nd, Ted will enter into a multi-year, first look deal with Amazon Studios. This will allow him to focus on the kind of critically acclaimed films he produced prior to joining Amazon and the prestige films he shepherded during his tenure here.
As many of you may know, Ted was hired to grow the movies team five years ago initially focusing on prestige films. His first production was Spike Lee’s critically acclaimed Chi-Raq. What followed was a slate of daring, interesting and award-winning films including the Oscar-winners Manchester by the Sea and Cold War, The Handmaiden, Love & Friendship, Paterson, You Were Never Really Here, The Big Sick and this year’s Oscar-nominated Les Misérables.
Ted is a beloved and widely respected figure throughout the industry. We’re grateful to continue our partnership as he enters into this new chapter. Ted will consult on several movies planned for release in 2020 and he will produce select projects on the Studios’ upcoming development slate. Amazon Studios will always be a home for the best filmmakers in the business, and we consider Ted a member of this group. I’m thrilled that Ted will continue to be a vital part of the Amazon Studios family.
Moving forward, Matt Newman and Julie Rapaport will be Co-Heads of the Movies team, reporting to me. I know the group will be in good hands as they continue their collaborative leadership, and build upon on the great successes AOM has had just within the past year with films including Late Night, Brittany Runs a Marathon, Honey Boy, The Aeronauts and Troop Zero. Please join me in congratulating Matt and Julie on their expanded roles.
I’m so proud of everything the Movies team has accomplished and look forward to continued great work in the future.
And finally, please join me in congratulating Ted on his new venture and thanking him for all his incredible work in helping build Amazon Original Movies.
From Ted Hope:
I have long aspired to improve my skills at expressing my thanks; I begin this letter fretting that I am going to fail to fully demonstrate how appreciative I am of the support, inspiration, and outright fun you have bestowed upon me. This is what this letter is really all about: thanks — my many thanks to all of you.
I have greatly enjoyed contributing to the launch, growth, and ongoing distinction that is Amazon Studios. From the start, it thrilled me that we stood for quality and ambition. It inspired me that we always tried to find new and more effective ways of doing things – and how that got us even more enthused. I love the movies that we developed, the ones we made, acquired and released. So many of our filmmakers were heroes of mine, and those that weren’t became so in the process. Many films we deeply value wouldn’t exist — or at least in the manner they do now — if we didn’t have the opportunity of working together at Amazon. It was particularly gratifying that The Aeronauts and Troop Zero – movies we developed, produced and long championed – connected so well with our customers and became the top performing original films on Prime.
Most of all, I loved working with you as a team. I have never been at a place where so many people were so smart, so passionate, and so committed to raising the bar — where they did not seem into it for themselves. When I first considered coming to Amazon and read our Leadership Principles, I was cynical and could not believe that the ALPs would be embodied by you — it is so great to be proven wrong on such things. Thank you, again. I trust we will get to collaborate many more times to come.
I feel the choice of how we use our labor is one of the most profound freedoms we can enjoy. Instead of just “work”, I have always wanted missions, and – not to be grandiose or anything — for a great amount of my five and half years here at Amazon Studios, I got to feel like my job was a great mission. Amazonians “Dig Deep” in our own unique ways, and after much personal reflection, interrogation, and “stack ranking,” my RCA (Recommended Course of Action) is that it is now time for me to say farewell.
Amazon and Jen have been generous in supporting the launch of my next venture, and we all can feel good that our projects — and the next era of movies at Amazon — are in the hands of my co-heads, Julie and Matt. I trust our new missions will demonstrate how aligned we all truly are. Let me know if I can ever be of help.
Keep lifting the good into the great!