Seven pinkslipped at VP level and below

Universal Pictures has pinkslipped seven employees in its international marketing and distribution division at VP level and below.

The layoffs, which reduce U’s international marketing and distribution staff from about 20 to 13, is part of the studio’s ongoing move to integrate its domestic and international marketing and distribution operations under Universal Pictures vice chairman Marc Shmuger and the recently hired Randy Greenberg, senior VP of international marketing and distribution. Latter joined the studio in March.

Although the studio would not release a list of employees who have left the department, departures are understood to include Elizabeth Gaynes, VP of international marketing, and Thomas Castaneda, VP of international publicity.

Studio is understood to have offered employees severance packages and will provide outplacement services.

“These layoffs are a continuation of our efforts to further integrate and streamline our domestic and international marketing and distribution operations, to eliminate any duplication of efforts,” a company spokeswoman said Tuesday.

A slimming of the international marketing and distribution departments had been expected since the departure in January of former international marketing and distribution prexy Nadia Bronson and the hire of Greenberg.

Bronson resigned in January following the promotion of Shmuger to vice chairman of Universal Pictures.

Shmuger now oversees a range of operations including such core areas as international film marketing and distribution as well as Internet activities.

Global redo all over town

His broad mandate parallels restructurings at other Hollywood majors, where execs with wide mandates have been given rein over international film matters as global distribution becomes an increasingly important studio revenue stream.

More U.S. films than ever before are rolling out overseas on the heels of their domestic debuts during the hot weather months, as the majors and some indie distribs aim to capitalize on the slew of sequels and star-driven and f/x-laden pictures.

In terms of international distribution, Universal Studios and DreamWorks in April announced a five-year extension of their current distribution deal for international film, worldwide homevideo releases and DVD product.

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