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Sony Lays Off 216 Workers including 70 in Interactive Division

Sony Pictures Entertainment has begun layoffs for hundreds of employees, including approximately 216 people in its Culver City headquarters and its entire Interactive team, which numbers more than 70 people, both in California and elsewhere.

The interactive team, which serves as a digital marketing agency and production studio for the studio’s product, has worked on films such as “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” “Skyfall,” “The Smurfs,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “This Is the End,” “Hotel Transylvania,” “Looper” and “Men In Black” as well as TV shows like “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune.” It also worked on social games and the studio’s mobile marketing presence.

According to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification under the California Labor Code, the layoffs will take place between June 2 and July 18.

“We are continuously evolving the business to make SPE more efficient and competitive,” said Charles Sipkins, an SPE spokesperson.

Additional layoffs are expected this week across all divisions of the company, both domestically and internationally. Sony topper Michael Lynton told Variety that both the $250 million the studio identified and the addition $100 million that it worked with Bain & Co. to cut has been determined. That additional slashing will happen over the next two years.

The cutbacks at SPI don’t mean the studio won’t promote its pics online. Sony’s campaign for “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” has rolled out primarily online since the first marketing materials – from posters to trailers – began last year.

The production and distribution of that work will now be handled by ad shops outside Sony.

In the past, Dwight Caines, Sony’s new marketing chief, who previously oversaw the studio’s digital motion picture marketing, has relied on outside vendors to do much of that work and will likely do so again in order to curb costs.

At the same time, Sony Pictures Television also produced digital games for “Jeopardy” and recently got into the original games biz with the launch of potential new franchises like “Suits & Swords” through its own internal divisions. It also produces digital content, including web series for Sony’s online entertainment channel Crackle.

Marc Graser contributed to this report. 

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