Amazon MGM has hired Searchlight Pictures’ longtime distribution chief Frank Rodriguez as its new general sales manager, the studio announced in a memo to employees Thursday.
Rodriguez brings more than 40 years of distribution experience to his new company, starting his career at 20th Century Fox in 1982 after graduating from UC Santa Barbara. Fox launched Searchlight in 1994 and tapped Rodriguez to join the new specialty division, where he worked for two years before joining Jeffrey Katzenberg’s newly launched DreamWorks Pictures.
At DreamWorks, Rodriguez oversaw sales for the studio’s films in New York, and when it was acquired by Paramount Pictures, he joined that studio and became its SVP of Eastern sales.
In 2012, Rodriguez returned to Searchlight and began an 11-year run as distribution chief that saw him oversee the release of multiple Oscar winners, including four that won Best Picture: Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” Alejandro Inarritu’s “Birdman,” Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” and Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland.” Last month, he received the Bingham Ray Spirit Award at ShowEast in honor of his career achievements.
Rodriguez joins a distribution team led by Kevin Wilson as Amazon MGM prepares to release Emerald Fennell’s dark satire “Saltburn” on Nov. 17. The studio will also release Cord Jefferson’s TIFF Audience Award winner “American Fiction” on Dec. 15.
A spokesperson for Searchlight confirmed Rodriguez’s departure and the start of the search for his successor. With distribution plans set up well in advance of release, Rodriguez has already set up Searchlight’s holiday season release slate, which includes Taika Waititi’s sports comedy “Next Goal Wins” on Nov. 17, Yorgos Lanthimos’ critically acclaimed sci-fi film “Poor Things” on Dec. 8, and Andrew Haigh’s romantic drama “All of Us Strangers” on Dec. 22.
Amazon MGM’s hire was first reported by Deadline.
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