Sony Pictures
Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Sony Pictures Entertainment will lay off 20 of its 600 marketing and distribution employees, Variety has confirmed.

The cuts come as part of a restructuring of the department and after the studio has suffered a string of flops such as “The Brothers Grimsby,” “Concussion” and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” It did have a smaller scale success last weekend with the faith-based drama “Miracles From Heaven.”

Sony is looking to regain its stride with the summer’s “Ghostbusters” reboot, as well as a new “Spider-Man” movie; an adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower”; the sci-fi drama “Passengers” with Jennifer Lawrence; and sequels to “Bad Boys” and “The Equalizer.”

As part of the changes, Danielle Misher and Damon Wolf have been promoted to co-heads of marketing for Screen Gems, TriStar and acquisitions. Misher previously oversaw marketing for Screen Gems, and Wolf was an EVP of marketing and creative advertising at Sony Pictures.

Josh Greenstein, president of marketing and distribution at Sony, announced the changes in an email to staff, positioning them as a series of strategic moves that would help the company adapt to a changing climate. In his note, Greenstein said the company is bolstering its international marketing and realigning it consumer marketing team. Strengthening Sony’s global efforts has been a key goal of Tom Rothman, who took over as studio chief from Amy Pascal in 2015.

“As you know, our industry continues to change in ways that impact virtually every aspect of our business,” Greenstein wrote. “It’s an exciting time for all of us, but also a time that requires us to continually assess our operations and adjust accordingly.”

Earlier this month, Sony tapped Focus executive Christine Birch as executive vice president of domestic creative marketing strategy. Greenstein said Birch will help to coordinate stateside publicity efforts.

People who are being laid off have been notified, Greenstein wrote. Deadline first reported news of the marketing changes and layoffs.

Here is Greenstein’s memo:

As you know, our industry continues to change in ways that impact virtually every aspect of our business. It’s an exciting time for all of us, but also a time that requires us to continually assess our operations and adjust accordingly.

We have already made a number of important strategic additions to support our international marketing efforts, bringing on Michael Horn in Marketing, Louise Chater for strategy and research, Steve Peace for media, and Paul Noble in creative advertising, as well as Joseph Liao as CMO in China, and Stephane Huard as MD in France. Today, we are announcing additional changes to strengthen our marketing organization in this competitive and rapidly evolving environment:

·        We have realigned the Consumer Marketing team so that Consumer Products & Licensing and Marketing Partnerships & Promotions will each become a standalone global function. A strong, independent consumer products team, accountable for its own P&L, will help us better exploit the content we own by generating new revenues from our most popular IP. Consumer Products & Licensing will report to me and Marketing Partnerships & Promotions will dual report to Dwight Caines and Michael Horn.

·        Our studio’s multi-label strategy remains a key component to our future success. To strengthen our focus on the campaigns across our specialty labels, we have named Danielle Misher and Damon Wolf as Co-Heads of marketing for Screen Gems, TriStar, and Acquisitions. They will continue to report to Dwight Caines.

·        We have also added a cross-functional position to the marketing team to better unify our domestic campaigns. As our newly hired EVP, Domestic Creative Marketing Strategy, Christine Birch will work across advertising, publicity, digital, and creative content, to apply our overall campaign strategies across all consumer touchpoints.

This restructure has also included the elimination of approximately 20 positions in Marketing & Distribution. Even such limited consolidations are hard, and were not undertaken lightly, as we appreciate the efforts and contributions of every employee. Those whose positions were impacted have already been notified.

Our studio has an exciting slate to look forward to, including Ghostbusters, Inferno, Magnificent Seven, The Dark Tower, Passengers, Spider-Man, the all-new animated Smurfs, The Equalizer 2, Resident Evil, Baby Driver, Trainspotting 2, Jumanji, Blade Runner, and many others, as well as all the great work being done on local productions and acquisitions in markets around the world. 

We have a fantastic team in place to market and distribute these movies across the globe, and to be very successful in the years ahead.

Thank you for your continued hard work and dedication.

Josh

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