George Leon, Sony Pictures executive VP of consumer marketing, told staff this week that he is leaving the studio.
His departure is a loss. Leon has been at the company for 16 years and was credited with combining licensing, promotions and product placement under one roof.
He was deeply respected for his retail campaigns on several signature franchises, such as the James Bond films and all of Sony’s “Spider-Man” efforts, and had been heavily involved in the roll-out of Sony’s upcoming “Ghostbusters” reboot.
A skilled deal-maker, Leon was able to bring Tiffany brands such as Heineken, Target, Walmart, and McDonald’s into the fold, integrating them into Sony’s campaigns.
In a sign of how deeply he is loved on the Sony Culver City lot, where he is revered for his major marketing firepower, many people were in tears at a staff meeting Leon called Tuesday announcing his decision to leave the studio in May.
A replacement is expected to be announced in the coming days. Sony has suffered a string of box office misfires in recent months and is very much in rebuilding mode. The studio had hits with “Hotel Transylvania 2,” faith-based indie “War Room” and the Bond sequel “Spectre,” but the Adam Sandler comedy “Pixels,” “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” and the Chloe Moretz sci-fi thriller “The 5th Wave” all stumbled. Sony is looking to regain its stride with sequels to “Bad Boys,” a reboot of “Spider-Man” with Tom Holland taking over for Andrew Garfield, and an adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower.”
Before coming to Sony in 2000, Leon was senior vice president of promotions at Saban for six years. He also had a stint as director of licensing at Camelot Licensing.