Her status at the studio has been in question after employee complaints about alleged marijuana use on the Sony lot prompted a human resources investigation, first reported by Variety on March 21. Birch denied to human resources executives that she smoked pot at the office. There was a growing sense, however, that Birch’s position at the company was untenable and that employees in the department were balking at working under the executive due to her caustic style. She was asked to take a leave as an investigation took place.
The investigation found no official wrongdoing and Birch was not suspended. But it’s understood that Birch came to agree with the company’s senior leadership that a return to work had become impossible after news broke about the investigation.
Birch joined Sony in 2016 from Focus Features, where she was president of marketing. At Sony, she was quickly promoted from a creative marketing executive to the head of the domestic marketing team. She replaced Dwight Caines, the previous Sony domestic marketing chief. Birch previously ran marketing for FilmDistrict and did a stint at DreamWorks Studios.
Josh Greenstein, the president of marketing and distribution at the studio, brought Birch into the fold in 2016 and has remained one of her big boosters. He credited her with providing invaluable insight on the campaigns for recent Sony hits such as “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” He indicated in a note to colleagues Wednesday that Birch and the studio had decided mutually that she should exit.
This is Birch’s second go-round with Sony. She was previously with the studio for 12 years. Here is the note:
Following an extraordinarily impressive run in Columbia’s Domestic Marketing department, Christine Birch is stepping down from her post as President of Domestic Marketing.
Christine approached us about leaving in January 2018, following the record-setting performance of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Under her tenure, Sony’s domestic marketing department produced some of its best results in years, including Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Magnificent Seven, Peter Rabbit, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
Below is a short note from Christine regarding her departure:
“The transformation of the Columbia Pictures marketing department has been one of the most rewarding chapters of my career. I’m very proud of the team and I’m incredibly grateful to Tom Rothman and Josh Greenstein for supporting my vision. Now, I’m ready for a new challenge.”
Christine’s direct reports will report to Andre Caraco, Co-President of Domestic Marketing, on an interim basis.
Please join me in thanking Christine for her hard work and dedication to Sony Pictures, and in wishing her all the best in the next chapter of her career.