Courtney Armstrong '97
Alum makes movie magic
By Aubrey Henretty
Courtney Armstrong '97 describes his career trajectory from mechanical engineer to lawyer to negotiating contracts for Warner Bros. Pictures as "a bit circuitous."
In September, Armstrong was promoted to senior vice president of business affairs at Warner Bros., where he has worked on the business side of projects including "Batman Begins," "The Departed," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," and the upcoming "The Dark Knight."
"I didn't know what I wanted to do in school," said Armstrong, who spent his undergraduate years studying engineering, though a lifelong love of film nudged him toward the West Coast.
Armstrong's affinity for a good story was reflected in his Kellogg courses. "My favorite class at Kellogg was the entrepreneurship class I took with Professor [Steven] Rogers," he said, recalling Rogers' well-known dynamic teaching style.
A graduate of the Kellogg School's Part-Time MBA Program and Northwestern University's School of Law, Armstrong had his first contact with the entertainment industry as a member of the entertainment litigation team at Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, a Los Angeles-based law firm. He went on to spend three years drafting contract and acquisitions agreements for The Walt Disney Company before joining Warner Bros. in 2003.
"Now I negotiate deals on a deeper level," he said. Instead of putting someone else's deals on paper, Armstrong interacts directly with agents representing top Hollywood talent. And since the cast is assembled at the end of a film's business cycle, he must negotiate quickly. "I didn't appreciate just how many people are involved [in producing a movie]" Armstrong said.
The ability to work quickly and effectively with others is central to his work.
"Kellogg training helps," Armstrong said. "It helps a lot more now."
Posted May 2008