Sony Pictures Slashes More Staff as Part of Streamlining Plan

Sony Pictures

Studio shutters Sony Pictures Technologies and lays off Chris Cookson

Continuing to slash overhead at its Culver City studio, Sony Pictures Entertainment is laying off at least three dozen employees, according to knowledgeable sources. The company announced Wednesday that it was shuttering its Sony Pictures Technologies unit and absorbing those operations into Sony Pictures Entertainment. The group’s longtime leader Chris Cookson was let go as well as several staffers who worked for him. Additionally, there were layoffs in Sony’s Home Entertainment group and visual effects and animation studio, Imageworks.

“As part of the Company’s previously announced efforts to evolve its operations, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is absorbing the functions of Sony Pictures Technologies into various core businesses,” the studio said in a prepared statement. “Regrettably, Chris Cookson will leave the Company as a result. In related moves, SPE has streamlined technology groups across its businesses to accelerate creative and technological innovation.”

Cookson is considered one of the top tech minds in the business and is credited with transitioning the studio to digital production. He joined Sony in 2008 after serving as Warner Bros.’ top tech exec and recently received a lifetime achievement Emmy.

All of Sony’s divisions are being scrutinized as the studio looks to cut $250 million. Bain & Co., which the studio hired in Nov. 2013, is in the midst of reviewing all of Sony Entertainment’s operations and additional layoffs are expected over the next several months.

SPE chairman Michael Lynton has been overseeing the streamlining of the studio. Co-chairman Amy Pascal, at a recent investors meeting on the studio lot, announced that she was cutting her film slate from 23 to 18 films per year.

David Cohen contributed to this report.

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  1. Steve Gallant says:

    Sony unlikely to sell studio unless they really are very desperate for cash.. And anyway ALL the studios will have to go through this as Home Entertainment transitions to lower revenue digital model from the high cost/high margin disc era. Sony are just feeling the pinch earlier as they are smaller than Uni Fox Warner and Disney.

  2. RedRiver says:

    Sony appears to be making itself a nice target for a take over sale.

  3. ReallyReally longtime employee says:

    “The group’s longtime leader” has only been there six years… but that really IS a longtime for Sony.

  4. Kistler says:

    Cadavra – the budget of a movie is merely a signifier of how screwed any net participants are. In this age of government kickbacks for legal money-laundering, AKA “incentives”, budgets aren’t a good indication of the real cost of a film, if they ever were.

  5. cadavra says:

    Or better yet: Stop spending $100 million on movies that could be made for $40 million, and $200 million for those that could be made for $80 million. There. Problem solved.

    • It's Smoggy Over Here! says:

      Of course, it’s just that simple! They could be reducing the cost of their films by 60% but choose not to. What an idiotic statement Cadavra.

      Sony’s bloating isn’t in its cost of productions, its in its bloated studio staff that is very bureaucratic. There are numerous departments that could be overseen by one VP but Sony has a dozen instead, and they all protect their domain and even departments that have overlapping interests are in the dark about each other. They need to get fewer people overseeing more and I think these cutbacks are probably a step in the right direction.

      The Imageworks cutbacks are probably the result of Sony doing the really smart thing and moving more work to its fine facility in Vancouver.

      • cadavra says:

        You’re not going to save $250 million by sacking a few execs. You do it by not spending like drunken sailors. Adam Sandler’s recent movies have all come in at $90 million or more. When pictures like THE HEAT, IDENTITY THIEF, BRIDESMAIDS and even THIS IS THE END come in at $25-35 million, there’s simply no excuse for his pictures to cost so much. This overspending is part and parcel of Amy’s M.O. Cameron Diaz went from a $5 million quote to $10 million for CHARLIE’S ANGELS to $15 million for THE SWEETEST THING to $20 million for FULL THROTTLE. That’s inexcusable…and typical.

  6. Glenn C. says:

    Why don’t they start with the top executives who REALLY are the ones who should be let go! They make zillions anyway and that would help the budget! Most of them at the top cannot make rational decisions anyway! When their films fail they are not to blame of course but the minions below them! His typical! How hypocritical! The blame game!

  7. Laura Bong says:

    Why doesn’t Amy Pascal cut her salary instead of letting go working class people?

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