Bringing along more than three decades of experience at Warner Bros., Courtenay Valenti has officially been named Head of Film, Streaming and Theatrical for Amazon and MGM Studios, Amazon Studios Chief Jen Salke announced on Tuesday in a memo to staff. Valenti will report directly to Salke and will begin March 1.
Additionally, Julie Rappaport, who had been running both studios on an interim basis, has been named Head of Film Creative and Strategy, and will continue to oversee the slate for Amazon Originals and MGM. Rappaport will report to Valenti.
It’s been nearly a year since Amazon acquired MGM, and through that time I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the MGM team and their work. I’ve been so impressed by the creativity and innovation and by the quality of the MGM slate, including Orion Pictures. These films have been a terrific complement to our Amazon Originals, and I’d like to thank Julie Rapaport for the amazing job she has done as the interim head of both film groups.
Our strategy now encompasses an expanded investment in film, including a robust theatrical plan and growing streaming program, in order to bring even more movies to film lovers all over the world. A key part of this strategy has been taking a focused and deliberate approach to ensure we have the right people in place to execute our creative vision. To that end, I’m pleased to announce that Courtenay Valenti is joining us on March 1 as Head of Film, Streaming and Theatrical, overseeing all films for Amazon and MGM Studios, reporting to me. Courtenay is a seasoned executive with more than three decades of experience in the industry, strong ties with filmmakers and creatives, and an outstanding reputation for excellence, from producing blockbuster movies to developing new franchises. Under her leadership, the team will continue to carefully curate our slate to deliver a well-rounded selection of tentpoles, prestige films, and genre fare.
Courtenay was most recently President of Production and Development at Warner Bros., overseeing the film slates for both Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Bros. Feature Animation. During her 33 years with the company, she oversaw numerous successes including the last four Harry Potter films, The Great Gatsby, Fantastic Beasts, Crazy Rich Asians, The Lego Movie, Lego Batman, You’ve Got Mail, and The Intern. She also played a central role in developing and shepherding the Oscar-winning Happy Feet and Mad Max: Fury Road as well as this year’s Academy Award nominated Elvis. Given her extraordinary track record in the film business, it’s an honor to have her join us.
We’re well positioned for the future, and Julie is a big part of that. Recent successes achieved under her leadership include Being the Ricardos, Catherine Called Birdy, Goodnight Oppy, My Policeman, and Sundance award winners Emergency and Nanny. Upcoming titles Julie has also overseen include Air, Red One, Candy Cane Lane, Saltburn, Foe, The Burial and Cassandro as well the MGM titles Creed III, Challengers and Road House. Julie will continue to oversee the slate for Amazon Originals and MGM in her new role as Head of Film Creative and Strategy, reporting to Courtenay. I’ll have more to share about our team in the coming weeks.
Courtenay and Julie share a passion for storytelling and for storytellers, and together they will give us an even stronger creative edge and enhance our distinctive place as the Home for Talent.
I know you’ll join me in welcoming Courtenay to the team.
Valenti stepped down from her position with Warner Bros. last fall after being with the company for over three decades.
In her early days at the studio, Valenti oversaw the development of hits like Nora Ephron’s “You’ve Got Mail,” Alfonso Cuaron’s “A Little Princess,” Brad Bird’s “The Iron Giant,” Cameron Crowe’s “Singles,” Robert Zemeckis’ “Contact” and Gregory Nava’s “Selena.” The veteran exec also supervised the last four films in Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter” franchise and spin-off series “Fantastic Beasts,” including “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” earlier this year.
She leaves behind current and upcoming projects “Elvis,” Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” “The Color Purple” and “Mad Max” prequel “Furiosa.”
Valenti joins her former Warner Bros. colleague Sue Kroll, who was named the new head of Amazon’s marketing department last fall.
Next up, Amazon is prepping the theatrical release of Ben Affleck’s latest directorial effort, “Air.”
“Air,” from Amazon Studios, Skydance Sports, Mandalay Pictures, and the first project from Affleck and Matt Damon’s Artists Equity, features what is being described as a “first of its kind arrangement” with Amazon Studios distributing the film globally with Warner Bros. Pictures handling international as part of its distribution pact with Amazon’s MGM.
The new movie tells the true story of the partnership between Michael Jordan, a then-rookie with grand ambitions, and Nike’s fledging basketball division. Charting the creation of the Air Jordan brand, whose legacy still impacts popular culture today, “Air” will portray the greatest basketball player of all time in his earliest days and the drive that made him such a force of nature (on and off the court).