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Focus Features Layoffs Have Begun

Most layoffs taking place in New York

Some of the 103 employees at Focus Features have begun receiving pinkslips, three weeks after Universal fired CEO James Schamus.

No exact numbers were available, but many of the layoffs are coming at Focus’ New York operation, which employs 44 people and is being downsized significantly. Some of the pinkslips are being handed out to employees who will stay on board during the company’s transition through the end of the year as it absorbs FilmDistrict’s operations.

Focus also employs 43 staffers in Los Angeles — the new headquarters for the company — and another 17 in London, where its Focus International operation is based. Universal has not yet decided whether to close down its international business, which handles sales and production.

Focus co-CEO Andrew Karpen departed on Oct. 15. He offered the opportunity to stay with the company but chose not to relocate from New York to Los Angeles.

The Focus restructuring, also announced Oct. 15, is bringing in the majority of the team from FilmDistrict, with chief Peter Schlessel replacing Schamus.

FilmDistrict’s Adrian Alperovich will continue his role for Focus as chief operating officer. Christine Birch, who also comes from FilmDistrict, will join Focus as marketing prexy, while Jim Orr and Lia Buman transition to Focus from FilmDistrict as heads of distribution and acquisitions, respectively.

Adriene Bowles, president of publicity and exec VP of marketing, and Jeb Brody, president of production, will also remain in their jobs.  Jack Foley, Focus’s president of distribution, and marketing head David Brooks are staying on board through the transition but will not be joining the new company permanently.

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