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Amazon Studios indie film champion Ted Hope steps down as co-head of movies

Ryan Faughnder
Amazon Studios' movie "Troop Zero," featuring Allison Janney and Viola Davis.  (Curtis Bonds Baker / Amazon Studios)

Amazon Studios co-head of movies Ted Hope, a cheerleader for prestigious indie film at the tech giant, is stepping down from his executive role, the company said Thursday.

Hope will enter a producing deal with the Culver City studios June 2 that will allow him to produce movies for the unit, studio head Jennifer Salke said in a letter to staff. Salke said the move was Hope's decision.

"Ted approached me earlier this year and expressed his feelings about taking on a new challenge," Salke wrote in her memo. "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."

Hope joined Amazon Studios in 2015 as head of development, production and acquisitions for movies. He helped build the e-commerce titan's movies business under then Amazon Studios head Roy Price, who left the company after a sexual harassment claim. Since 2018, he has shared the title of movies co-head with Matt Newman and Julie Rapaport under Salke.

Hope is a respected figure in indie film and brought Amazon several early successes, including Spike Lee's "Chi-raq," Oscar winner "Manchester by the Sea" and comedy hit "The Big Sick."

However, Amazon's film strategy has changed under Salke to include more commercial fare, though the studio has continued to release art-house titles championed by Hope, including the recent Oscar-nominated French film "Les Miserables." Amazon, previously an overt proponent of traditional theatrical releases, has also shifted to pursuing more straight-to-streaming films after struggling with some high-profile titles including "Late Night" and "Brittany Runs a Marathon."

Amazon's "Troop Zero," one of Hope's movies, was released directly to Amazon Prime video in January. "The Aeronauts," an Amazon production starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, premiered with a modest theatrical release last year before heading to streaming.

Newman and Rapaport will remain in their positions, reporting to Salke. Rapaport has overseen more mid-budget films aimed at wider audiences, while Newman covers day-to-day operations and strategy for films, including release plans.

"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," Hope said in his email to staff. "I trust our new missions will demonstrate how aligned we all truly are."