Jason Ropell has stepped down as the head of Amazon Studios’ film division, the latest in a string of executive shakeups to hit the studio since Roy Price resigned last year.
Ropell has been with Amazon for six years and led the worldwide film division for about two years, overseeing a team that currently consists of about 150 people. He is exiting because the division is changing strategy, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation who wasn’t authorized to speak. Amazon declined to comment.
Ted Hope and Matt Newman will fill Ropell’s role on an interim basis, while Bob Berney will remain head of marketing and distribution. Hope serves as head of motion picture production at Amazon Studios, and Newman is head of international film distribution and strategic initiatives.
Amazon’s film division has produced and released a number of acclaimed indie films, including the Oscar-winning “Manchester by the Sea.” The studio has leaned toward auteur filmmakers such as Woody Allen, Lynne Ramsay and Nicolas Winding Refn. This month, it released the Gus Van Sant movie “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot,” which stars Joaquin Phoenix.
But the studio is now shifting toward more mainstream projects in an attempt to garner bigger audiences and compete with Netflix. Amazon hasn’t discussed what kinds of movies it plans to produce in the future, but on the TV side, the studio is pursuing a big-budget series adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.”
Price resigned as the head of Amazon Studios in October following an allegation that he had sexually harassed a television producer working on one of his shows. In February, Amazon named NBC Entertainment President Jen Salke to succeed Price as head of the studio.
Since then, Amazon Studios has seen new appointments in its TV division, including Vernon Sanders as co-head of television, working alongside co-head Albert Cheng.
On the film side, Amazon is preparing a slate of awards hopefuls for the upcoming fall season. The studio will release “Beautiful Boy,” a drug addiction drama starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet; a remake of “Suspiria,” directed by Luca Guadagnino ; and “Peterloo,” the latest film by British director Mike Leigh.
Screen Daily first reported the Ropell news.