EXCLUSIVE: After a 33-year run at Warner Bros. Pictures, and lots of hits including the Lego franchise, the last four Harry Potter films, multi-Oscar winner Mad Max Fury Road and summer’s adult hit, Elvis, Courtenay Valenti, President, Production and Development for Warner Bros. Pictures has decided to leave.
While’s there been a lot of news about cuts at Warner Bros. Discovery, Valenti’s departure is not that. This is a highly respected studio executive with a great streak who is looking to move on with what’s next in life. Valenti will depart at the end of October, and leaves behind a keen production staff in Kevin McCormick, Jesse Ehrman, Sheila Walcott and Cate Adams. under Warner Bros. Pictures Group Co-Chairs and CEOs, Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy. Recent and upcoming pics that Valenti was taking charge on were Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, which brought older adults back to cinemas, grossing close to $300M worldwide, and become stateside the Australian filmmaker’s highest grossing movie stateside at $148M. Valenti also shepherded the recent Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (in fact, the entire Fantastic Beasts franchise), Greta Gerwig’s Barbie starring Margot Robbie in the title role and Ryan Gosling as Ken, George Miller’s epic Mad Max prequel, Furiosa, in production over in Australia; and the feature of Broadway musical The Color Purple produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey.
“We’ve known Courtenay and been admirers of her work for many years,” said De Luca and Abdy in a statement to Deadline. “She’s been an integral part of Warner Bros. Pictures’ success for over three decades and has had a hand in guiding some of the studio’s most popular and successful films. She’s well-respected across the creative community, she’s beloved here on the lot, and she will be greatly missed. We know that she’ll be hugely successful in her next endeavor and join all of her colleagues in wishing her the very best.”
“Leaving WB after 33 years was not an easy decision to make,” Valenti tells us. “Reflecting on my time at Warner Bros., I feel extraordinary pride in what my colleagues and I have contributed to the studio and to the big screen. And tremendous gratitude for the time spent with them and some of the most dynamic and creative icons of cinema. I want to thank David Zaslav, Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy for their support as I begin my next chapter. They are passionate about storytelling, cinema, filmmakers and especially the theatrical experience. Equally, they love Warner Bros. as I do, and I know they will lead this legendary studio to great heights.”
Valenti was named President of Production in May 2017. In that role, she oversaw and managed WBPG’s live-action and animated development teams and budget, and also worked closely with divisional leadership on overall slate development. The daughter of the late Motion Picture Association of America President/Film Ratings Pioneer, Jack Valenti, Courtenay Valenti ascended through the creative development ranks on the Burbank, CA lot, most recently serving as Co-President, Production, Warner Bros. Pictures. She was an integral force in the studio’s vibrant return to animation with the Lego franchise and the Oscar winning Miller directed Happy Feet. She was also behind Luhrmann’s 2x Oscar winning $354M-grossing The Great Gatsby, The Intern from writer/director Nancy Myers, among several other titles.
Earlier in her career she developed and supervised films such as Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail, Alfonso Cuaron’s A Little Princess, Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant, Cameron Crowe’s Singles, Robert Zemeckis’ Contact and Gregory Nava’s Selena, among others.
Valenti was born in Houston, Texas and raised in Washington, D.C. She graduated cum laude from Tufts University with a double major in English and Economics. After graduation, she worked at the New York City investment banking firm Lehman Brothers in mortgage finance, first as a mortgage finance analyst and later as mortgage securities trader. She sits on the board of trustees of the LBJ Presidential Library and Foundation and on the board of the Polytechnic School in Pasadena, CA. Additionally, she is a member of the MPTF’s Social Services Committee.
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