May 27, 2019

Amazon Studios’ New Boss Is Reshaping Its Strategy. Step One: Lure New Talent.

Ms. Salke comes to Amazon with a proven track record. She helped orchestrate a turnaround for NBC, taking it from a nadir when it briefly abandoned 10 p.m. dramas to first place for each of the last two seasons. During her tenure, NBC found the smash hit “This Is Us.” Ms. Salke previously worked at Fox’s television production studio, where she guided notable shows like “Glee” for Fox and “Modern Family” for ABC.

Dan Fogelman, the creator of “This is Us,” credited Ms. Salke with taking an interest in his drama, even before it became a runaway hit.

“When she is impassioned about a project, she is more intimately involved with the material than a quote-unquote entertainment president normally would be,” he said.

But she has no movie experience — and a large part of Amazon’s success in Hollywood so far (it arrived in 2010) has come from its film division, where box office successes have included “The Big Sick” and “Manchester by the Sea,” which was nominated for six Oscars, winning two.

Ms. Salke inherited some baggage on the film front, too. Mr. Price spent lavishly to bring Woody Allen to Amazon, bankrolling “Wonder Wheel” for $25 million; it collected $1.4 million at the domestic box office in December, likely hurt by renewed scrutiny of allegations that Mr. Allen molested his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow in 1992. Mr. Allen has steadfastly denied the claims and was not charged. Amazon also financed Mr. Allen’s next film, “A Rainy Day in New York,” but there has been no word on how the film will ultimately be made available to see.

Ms. Salke may luck out with another film from the Price era, however — one from Mr. Fogelman. He directed “Life Itself,” a romantic drama about intersecting lives over multiple generations that is scheduled for release by Amazon in September. Amazon has high box office hopes for the film, which could also figure in the Academy Awards race.

Amazon also has another likely Oscar contender in “Beautiful Boy,” about a father coping with his son’s drug addiction. Timothée Chalamet (“Call Me by Your Name”) stars.

Ms. Salke will probably add a senior executive to Amazon’s film team. With movies, “we want to maintain the level of excellence,” she said. “At the same time, we do want to widen the aperture a little bit.”

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