Warner Bros. Expected to Cut as Many as 1,000 Jobs (EXCLUSIVE)

Warner Bros. Expected Cut Many 1,000
Getty Images/Michael Buckner

Warner Bros. Entertainment is expected to cut as many as 900 to 1,000 jobs worldwide as part of a studio-wide cost-cutting move, according to people familiar with the company’s plans. The estimated reductions would amount to more than 10% of the studio’s 9,000-person workforce.

The cuts will be made in late October or early November.

Senior managers are currently assessing their businesses to come up with ways to trim overhead. Only at the end of that process will an exact reduction figure be known. It could be somewhat lower than the current numbers being speculated, but cuts are expected to be substantial.

“There is no head count target or percentage reduction target,” said Dee Dee Myers, Warner Bros.’ new executive vice president of corporate communications. “This is a budget issue, not a head count issue,” she added.

In a Sept. 4 memo to staff, Warner CEO Kevin Tsujihara warned that layoffs were coming at every level of the studio but did not disclose which of the divisions — including film, TV and home entertainment — would be hit the hardest. Inside sources said that the movie and TV production units will be least impacted as Warner Bros. plans to continue its priority of investing in content and in fact wants to increase the studio’s output. Home Entertainment, marketing, distribution, administration and other non-production related divisions are expected to take the brunt of the layoffs, they said.

“Since I became CEO, I’ve been working with the Studio’s senior management team to create a plan to position Warner Bros. for future growth,” Tsujihara told employees in his email. “This will require us to reduce costs and reallocate resources to our high-growth businesses.”

The last major wave of WB layoffs came in 2009 when the studio slashed 800 jobs.

Warner Bros., which has been the most consistently successful among the Big Six studios in recent years, has had a number of major box office misses in 2014 including “Transcendence,” “Winter’s Tale” and “Edge of Tomorrow.”

Additionally, the Wachowski siblings’ $150 million sci-fier “Jupiter Ascending,” starring Channing Tatum, was yanked out of its original July 2014 release slot less than two months before its opening in order to complete its special effects and address other issues that were reflected in the film’s weak tracking.

Recent box office hits include “The Lego Movie” and a reboot of “Godzilla,” of which WB only had a 25% stake, and the studio has several high-profile releases lined up, including “Horrible Bosses 2” in November and the third and final “Hobbit” movie this coming December. Future tentpoles include “Batman v Superman” and other DC superhero films, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter spinoff series “Fantastic Beasts.”

WB is also credited with such popular TV shows as “The Big Bang Theory,” “Mike & Molly” and “Two and a Half Men.” The TV studio is placing a big bet on its Batman prequel “Gotham,” which debuts on Fox next Monday and was already sold to Netflix.

The sizable cuts at Warner Bros. arrive as parent company Time Warner faces severe pressure from Wall Street and investors to reduce costs after spurning Rupert Murdoch’s $80 billion recent takeover bid. The stock, which had jumped above $87 a share after the offer was unveiled on July 16, plummeted to $72 a share following the Aug. 5 withdrawal by Murdoch. It closed at $76.86 Wednesday and is up 13% for the year.

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes told media analysts that Fox’s rejected bid, which would have created a media powerhouse that generated $65 billion in revenue, “just didn’t make sense.” At Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia conference last week, he acknowledged, “We do think there was a fair amount of risk in taking on that size of combination.”

All of Time Warner’s operations are undergoing top-to-bottom internal reviews, including HBO, one of  the media giant’s most lucrative businesses, say sources close to the matter. However, Bewkes dismissed the notion that Time Warner is considering spinning off the pay TV giant as a separate company or trading stock.

Other Time Warner holdings under the microscope include Turner Broadcasting, which began offering buyouts to between 500 and 600 of its U.S. employees last month. Turner owns CNN and TBS, among other networks, and is expected to make a decision on how many positions it will eliminate once the buyout process is complete.

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  1. Larz says:

    Godzilla could be a Blockbuster if Warner bros put more time and energy into it, especially more Monster scenes with disasters. Lots of disappointed fans and new fans would flock to see it over again like Titanic etc.

  2. redc1c4 says:

    good news, and it couldn’t happen to more deserving people.

    they are a lousy company,that makes lousy products, and they can’t go away fast enough. in fact, let me be the first to suggest they move to Canada, and never film in the US again.

    unless they go bankrupt, which would be just fine with me.

    good riddance to bad rubbish.

  3. JoelR says:

    Folks, the theatrical end won’t suffer. Those guys will still be greenlighting money losers. The REAL losers will be those of us (and other home theater enthusiasts) who enjoy movies at home. You will see fewer extras on disc (we can see that already), fewer titles on disc, maybe even no 3D on disc (for those of us who enjoy that feature). The future is indeed bleak. Guess I’ll be cutting down on movies.

  4. sparky64 says:

    Thuffering Thucathsh!

  5. Laurie Johnson. says:

    Newsflash, there are now enough movies for a 10 year old to watch one each day of their lives until they are 80
    We don’t need any more And quite frankly , the older stuff is way better and far more wholesome.

  6. tericrosschetwood says:

    Well, Bugs and Daffy are safe, but I fear Yosemite Sam may have to go.

  7. Charles Watson says:

    How can you keep fresh new movie ideas from the same old limited source. I have tried and tried to submit to them for years and was stone walled every time. It’s funny when I take my ideas and film them I always beat out Warner,HBO,Paramount,Cine-Max in the short film category of $500,000 and under. My last budget was $3,260.00. I beat them all. I Have a Brand new Willy Wonka that is a laugh riot but can I submit? NO. I’m not in the in crowd. They think the only brains in the Film Industry are in Hollywood. So they are now going to start suffering.

  8. deepred says:

    So between Bugs, Daffy, Elmer, Yosemite, Foghorn, Porky, Sylvester, Tweety, Road Runner, and Wile E. Whose being let go?

  9. Joe E in the IE says:

    Not to mention that they and the rest of the big studios are dutifully ignoring the endless all-you-can-eat buffet of movie-ready scandals served up by the current administration.

    Salvation could be theirs if they’d stop being a whimpering pack of cowardly little lapdogs afraid of losing your A-list status at the White House.

  10. rikits says:

    Hollywood took a stand and vocally demonized whoever didn’t believe the way they do so i won’t spend my money on them. I don’t care if they go under anymore

  11. Tom says:

    This can’t be true. The Obama administration said that the economy is doing great, even better than ever. And we know they never prevaricate…oh wait…never mind.

  12. IT 2 IT says:

    To be honest, Hollywood’s been GONE since Spielberg and Lucas and Cameron
    got on board with theme park, franchise slum values in the 70s.

    YOU have a flipcam?

    YOU! —-are HOLLYWOOD!

  13. Lol, Warner Bros. is shovel ready.

  14. iambicpentamaster says:

    Not funny…

    Warner is one of my regular clients!

  15. LarryM says:

    CNN Breaking News!!! Liberalism hits Warner Bros

  16. Gas Passer says:

    Well Warner Bros., demand immigration reform like the elite billionaires or hire illegal aliens like the rest of the businesses in the United States. It’s all about the bottom line right? The illegal aliens will slave for you billionaires, big and small business for slave wages.

  17. USAFRN says:

    Wow, i’m getting tired of reading the same thing and posting the same answer. How DEPRESSING.
    “But Obama keeps telling us the economy has recovered is doing fine.” I keep passing empty offices, empty buildings, and reading these stories. After all, He did win the Pinocchio Award last year from the Washington Post for being caught in multiple LIES.

  18. Greg says:

    Bring back Bugs, Daffy, Elmer and Sylvester…

  19. adoringfan says:

    C’mon now I’m sure they’ll be a bailout for these folks so dear to obama’s heart-

  20. Thomas Miller says:

    If they are taking suggestions, I nominate DC Comics’ Dan Didido.

  21. EarlP says:

    “…the studio has several high-profile releases lined up, including “Horrible Bosses 2″ in November and the third and final “Hobbit” movie this coming December.”

    Holy Flying F#ck, Batman!! Horrible Bosses TWO !!!! The pitch must have been: “Yeah, we know the first was a piece of sh#t. But I think we can make the second even sh#ttier – just look what they did with the Hangover franchise, although we know Horrible Bosses I was really more like that sh#tty Hangover II but without the charm…”

    And that f#cking never-ending “Hobbit” CGI piece of crap (spoiler alert: the f#cking dragon died of boredom two movies ago!!!)

    What more do you need to know about why this “entertainment” company is tanking…..

  22. Al D says:

    Blame Obamacare for the decline in business and the increased cost of retaining employees. It’s a two-edge sword

  23. Anonymous says:

    Warners can start by getting rid of its useless DI (digitial intermediate) department, or better yet, why not get rid of the entire motion picture “imaging” department? It’s unnecessary (labs and other vendors do this work and do it better and more efficiently and this is just seems like expensive studio overhead that is charged back to films). The work they do is not that good — inferior quality. Some of the department heads are phoning in their jobs anyway (going to film festivals and just “hanging out”, getting unearned “producer” credits on films where they give away Warner post services to those they favor — which can’t be good for the bottom line). Warners needs to get rid of those clueless people and all that useless overhead and instead spend more money on their home video departments to release higher-quality Blu-rays and DVDs with extra content, and more money spent on its film archives to do important digital restorations of classic films, and invest in making/preserving more 35mm negatives and IPS while labs are still operating. They need to have more synchronicity between departments — for example, they need to allow documentary-makers to have free use of movie posters, images and clips (within limits — say a 5 minute clip or a limited number of photos) which helps to promote their own classic movies, instead of trying to charge them outrageous licensing fees to use what was once considered “advertising.” No filmmaker is going to pay $2000 or more to put a poster (ad) of a Warner Bros. movie in their documentary or to cut to a few images from a Warner movie! They will just not use it. Which hurts Warners because those eyeballs/viewers/film lovers could help promote Warners own DVD/Blu-rays, the market of which has all but died out due to neglect. Not to mention that reperatory movie theaters are having a hard time booking film prints from studios such as Warners — so film preservation and reprinting old films is more important than ever. If people who love films can’t go to movie theaters and see them, how does that reflect on the studios? Doesn’t it just make people stay at home and get used to not going out and not buying Warner Brothers movie tickets? And if they are staying home, but Warners is cheaping out on Blu-ray content, are these homebound viewers going to watch something else instead? Also shooting on the lot should be made easier and possible for young filmmakers and students — but it’s all but made impossible with fees, insurance requirements and overhead. Why? All of these things need to be made easier, more affordable and more streamlined in order to promote Warners own movie products — not made harder and more cumbersome with bureaucracy, red tape, fees and unnecessary paperwork — as is the case today. I know it sounds obvious, but why not run the studio as if you loved filmmakers and filmmaking and as if you support the filmmakers of yesterday (archives), today (documentarians) and tomorrow (students)?

    • HStein says:

      Dear “Anonymous”. Sounds like you are either a disgruntled former employee of MPI or one of the “labs and other vendors” we’ve taken work away from by doing better work. What you say may have been partially true years ago, but my experience with MPI has been quite the opposite. There is a very talented core of Colorists, editors and graphic artists. The work we get from vendors is a perfect example of how cutting costs (hiring cheaper, less experienced people) ends up costing more-it needs to be fixed. We constantly deal with non-standard aspect ratios, incorrect frame rates, textless not matching texted…and so on. The corporate “bean counters” are at work everywhere-and ruining the business over all even on the “outside” of the Studios. Deluxe has bought up almost everyone, laid off slews of talented people, increased the work load to those still working, people are doing more than one function to “save” money……you get where I’m coming from. I have been in post for many years. I remember the pre-accountant- Wall Street ownership days. In other words before 4MC came to town and tried to make a quick buck but having no feel at all for a creative business. There has to be a balance between responsible finances and creative needs. Of course, I am a bit prejudiced toward the creative needs side.

    • MPI says:

      The inferior work comes from outside vendors. MPI does fantastic work and they also do mastering, The best QC work, dubbing, preservation, and restoration. We have some of the best people in the industry at MPI. I come from Technicolor and can say MPI work is top notch. Name a bad DI MPI has done? That’s right you can’t, so stop with slander.

    • Those are horrible ideas…

    • Joshua Reider says:

      The above sound like very good ideas if one wants to double the number of possible layoffs or simply shut down the studio all together.

  24. Burbank Burner says:

    Poor Burbank, CA, takes another hit. Disney has already announced cuts. NBC is still moving out of town. It was once the west coast entertainment capitol of the country.

  25. Hollywood Sucks says:

    You’re a hateful, small-minded loon.

  26. Hollywood Sucks says:

    Hopefully, it’s the lawyers they get rid of–those bottom feeders think they own every creative work ever produced.

  27. Sid Weiss says:

    oh well, these workers have repeatedly voted for policies which take money out of the wallets of Americans and when Americans cut back the first thing they cut back on is buying dvds and going to movies and satellite radio as of late

  28. The Warner Archive is one of the bright spots so I wouldnt think that would be cut as badly as some of the other segments.

  29. sosrcountry says:

    Hey CEO’S. This is what happens with your quest to hire illegals and more Visa workers!!

    U.S. citizens are out of work, with little prospects for a full time/good.paying job in sight!!

    Simple math, we cannot go to your movies or buy your cheap labor products!

    You don’t support your fellow citizens…we can’t/won’t support you!!

    Your master, Obama, has taxed & regulated us out of work too!

  30. Naime Bond says:

    Pelosi just released a statement ‘…To put this in better perspective, we simply have to face facts – these were jobs that Americans no longer wanted to do …’

  31. Naime Bond says:

    8,975 in US no doubt; the rest in Asia.

  32. alan says:

    Thats all folks

  33. Steven Shaw says:

    May Comcast should buy them. WB properties already part of the Universal theme parks.

  34. S2 says:

    Add it to the list

    Layoff List: Dailyjobcuts com

  35. BOb Hope says:

    “This is a budget issue, not a head count issue,” she added.<< classic double speak line. i wonder just how stupid she thinks people are…

  36. John Long says:

    Brave over the internet, Wimp in public

  37. F Bergloff says:

    Dee Dee Myers, Warner Bros.’ new executive vice president of corporate communications? From the Clinton administration? That tells me all I need to know! Too many unqualified political hacks in the company…… Good luck …… Dee Dee Myers?

  38. Kent says:

    What’s up doc?

  39. Paulytical says:

    The film industry is not immune from the sluggish economy. The sluggish economy is apparently what Americans wanted – they elected a welfare organizer to run the country. What did they expect?

  40. Don says:

    Future California politicians.

  41. TV DVD Guy says:

    Reading between the lines suggests that the fantabulous Warner Archive is slated for the biggest chops; considering that this division terrifically manages the releases of the true Warner treasures from the ’30s and ’40s, this blow to artistic integrity must have Jack Warner spinning in his grave faster than a rotisserie chicken at Boston Market.

    It seems that the bean counters are Warner are beefing up Mike and Molly at the despicable expense of Nick and Nora.

  42. MichMike says:

    This cannot be true. Warner Bros. are BIG contributors to the democrat party and democrats NEVER lay people off, they just take it out of their profits. I will expect to see the retraction story shortly.

  43. herdofpugs says:

    Hollywood has shot itself in the foot. Their egos and liberal ignorance when hitching their cart to Obama’s star was the straw that broke the camels back. They have revealed themselves to be just what Joseph McCarthy warned us of, a bunch of America-hating Communists.
    They all deserve every bad thing that’s coming their way.

    • Paul Trott says:

      Hey Warner, don’t let the reality of some waking up and wanting real entertainment keep you from loosing revenue by producing mind-numbing-Idioracy-political-agenda junk. Enjoy the party.

    • AlbertG says:

      Interesting business plan when you start from the position of alienating and insulting one half of your potential customers.. and then hiring a bunch of half wit liberal “actors” who spend their free time either making sex videos of themselves or prancing around in their Lear jets telling us how evil the “rich” are.

  44. newjerseybtjr says:

    Duck season! No rabbit season! …No! Warner Bros. season!

  45. Hollywood and Democrats–The world’s biggest cluster-you-know-what!

  46. EDGE OF TOMMOROW has grossed over $100 million domestically so should not be considered a box office failure!

  47. Tommy Freedom says:

    It is amazing. A business in an industry dominated by left-wing wacko politics being run with financially responsible decisions.

  48. Tom says:

    If they’d get back to producing quality cartoons such as Bugs Bunny and Foghorn Leghorn, they’d be adding people instead of firing them.

  49. John Long says:

    the pink slip is short and sweet it says

    “Th-th-th-that’s all folks!

  50. minoton says:

    After a ‘bubble’ of eight Harry Potter films, it’s a return to business as normal. And compared to the bubble, normal is interpreted as a loss. You can’t always expect to be on the crest of the wave, sometimes you’re in the trough. The idea is to find a way to stay in the middle. But studio execs wrongly think the crest is the new middle.
    Hard to figure out how there can be budget problems when foreign governments are forking over so much subsidy money directly to the studios.

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