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.