Amazon Studios wants to go more mainstream with its movie division and has named a new executive to lead a team devoted to creating more commercially oriented titles.
Julie Rapaport has been promoted to co-head of Amazon Studios’ movie team, where she will work alongside Ted Hope and Matt Newman, with all three reporting to studio chief Jennifer Salke. Rapaport will lead the new team, whose mission will be to expand the current film slate with titles appealing to wider audiences, the studio said in its announcement Wednesday.
Hope will continue to oversee the prestige movies that have become Amazon Studios’ specialty, while Rapaport’s division will oversee movies with bigger budgets. Unlike rival Netflix, the studio releases its films in cinemas before making them available to stream at home for Amazon Prime subscribers.
“Keeping in mind the diverse range of tastes of our Prime Video customers, we are focused on continually expanding our content offerings,” Salke said in Wednesday’s announcement.
“I want to stress that across series and movies, all divisions hold quality first and foremost as their bar. With Julie joining Ted and Matt, this clears the pathway to further expand our robust movie slate to include more widely engaging stories that audiences will connect with. Julie is a talented and highly respected creative executive and leader and we are thrilled to see her step into this expansive role.”
The new division already has some titles in the pipeline, including “Lucy and Desi,” written by Aaron Sorkin, about TV pioneers Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz; and “Union,” written by acclaimed playwright Robert Schenkkan, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt attached to produce, about the head of the post-Civil War infantry tasked with fighting the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.
Rapaport previously worked at Amazon Studios under Hope’s division, holding the title of senior manager of development, production and acquisitions. In that role, she oversaw titles including the upcoming “Beautiful Boy,” as well as “Brad’s Status” and “Last Flag Flying.”
She also worked at the studio formerly known as Weinstein Co., where she rose to the position of senior vice president of production and development.
Her promotion comes two months after Jason Ropell stepped down as the head of Amazon Studios’ movie division.
The division has focused on art house and niche films since its inception and has yet to enter the blockbuster market. Past titles include “The Big Sick,” “The Lost City of Z” and the Oscar-winning “Manchester by the Sea.”