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Troubled Apparition cuts back staffers

Co. slashes its workforce by 60% to 15 staffers

Bill Pohlad’s fledgling film distribution company Apparition is slashing its workforce by 60% to 15 staffers, giving pinkslips to most of the team that Bob Berney brought in when he and Pohlad launched the company last year.

Apparition also is moving its operation from Gotham — where Berney was based — to L.A.

The news comes seven weeks after Berney abruptly exited.

Layoffs signal that Pohlad has serious concerns about staying in the distribution biz, although his reps say he’s committed to trying.

He has tapped former Lionsgate prexy Tom Ortenberg as a consultant to help plan the company’s immediate future and assist on the distribution and marketing strategy for its upcoming release, director Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life.”

“Over the last few weeks, circumstances have forced us to rethink the direction and operations of the company, and regrettably this has resulted in layoffs impacting our staff and changes for our colleagues,” said Pohlad in a statement.

“Still, we very much believe in the mission set forth with Apparition, and welcome Tom Ortenberg’s expertise and consultation in the coming weeks and months.”

Insiders say the extent of the cuts came as a surprise to Apparition staffers. The lone Berney hire remaining at the shingle is marketing veteran Kirk Iwanowski.

Apparition’s restructure could pave the way for Berney to finalize his next move. He’s rumored to be in talks to form a distribution division for Graham King’s GK Films.

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