EXCLUSIVE: Big shift in the film distribution sphere here today as Searchlight’s longtime Head of Distribution Frank Rodriguez is heading to Amazon MGM Studios as their new General Sales Manager.
Rodriguez will report to Amazon MGM Head of Distribution Kevin Wilson, who was named to the position in April following the passing of longtime distribution boss Erik Lomis. The recent hire of Rodriguez is part of the restructuring of the theatrical distribution group over at Amazon MGM. Already at Amazon MGM is East Coast distribution vet Mark Boxer, who came to the studio during the Bob Berney era, who was named Head of Specialty Theatrical Distribution back in April.
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Rodriguez–who received the distinguished ShowEast honor the “Bingham Ray Spirit Award” last month– has been at Searchlight since 2012 when it was Fox Searchlight and has overseen the domestic distribution of a slew of Oscar and award winning arthouse hits including Wes Anderson’s highest grossing movie ever, The Grand Budapest Hotel ($59.3M domestic, $174.5M WW), Guillermo del Toro’s Best Picture winning The Shape of Water ($63.8M domestic, $195.2M), Taikia Waititi’s absurdist political comedy Jojo Rabbit ($33.3M domestic, $93.5M WW), Steve McQueen’s Oscar Best Picture winning 12 Years a Slave ($56.6M domestic, $187.7M), Michael Keaton’s comeback movie Birdman ($42.3M domestic, $103.2M WW), and Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite ($34.3M domestic, $95.9M WW).
Rodriguez’s track record in distribution includes stints with DreamWorks as their head of sales in New York. He started with the studio from its beginnings until it was initially acquired by Paramount. He later served as SVP of Eastern Sales with the studio before Searchlight.
Rodriguez leaves behind big shoes to fill and we hear that Searchlight execs are in talks with distribution candidates for the post. That position reports up through to the greater Disney distribution team led by Tony Chambers, EVP of Theatrical Distribution. Movies are always booked at theaters well in advance, and Rodriguez has already laid out great plans for Searchlight’s awards slate this season which includes Waititi’s underdog comedy Next Goal Wins (Nov. 17); Lanthimos’ Venice Golden Lion winner Poor Things (Dec. 8), starring and produced by Emma Stone; and Andrew Haigh’s critically acclaimed romantic drama All of Us Strangers (Dec. 22), which was just nominated for 4 Gotham Awards.
Here is Wilson’s note to staff:
I write today to announce an extremely exciting addition to our ranks. As part of the restructuring of the theatrical distribution group (that it’s my great honor to lead), Frank Rodriguez will join us as General Sales Manager.
As you many of you already know, Frank has long been one of our industry’s foremost executives. He joins us from Searchlight Pictures, where he has overseen sales and distribution for more than a decade, helping the company win an astounding four Academy Awards for Best Picture, among countless other awards and nominations. Frank’s distinguished career has also included overseeing sales in the New York market for DreamWorks—from the company’s launch to its acquisition by Paramount Pictures, where Frank later served as SVP of Eastern Sales. Frank was honored last month at ShowEast with the “Bingham Ray Spirit Award” for his exemplary foresight and creativity in distribution, which is a testament to his impressive professional achievements.
We have accomplished so much over this past year, and I am so proud of the entire team. Frank’s addition only strengthens us further as we continue to find ways to grow our theatrical business and deliver the best entertainment to audiences everywhere.
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