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Sony Pictures Layoffs Hit Marketing and Distribution Department (EXCLUSIVE)

Layoffs have hit Sony Pictures’ marketing and distribution department, Variety has learned. The cuts, announced on Wednesday, are believed to number at least 25 staffers. The department has approximately 550 employees globally.

The moves follow similar layoffs last month at Sony Pictures Television, as well as a dozen staff cuts at Crackle, Sony’s ad-supported streaming service. The film unit had been bracing for pink slips for some time. It was widely known on Sony’s Culver City lot that marketing and distribution president Josh Greenstein was conducting a top-to-bottom review of the division to find ways to cut costs, while making the marketing group more efficient and globally-oriented. The hope is that it will also improve operating margins.

As part of that effort, jobs are being eliminated in the company’s research and strategy, publicity, media, operations, consumer, and distribution groups.

“While many of these changes and decisions have been difficult, I’m confident that these steps will help us achieve our goals to become a stronger and more nimble organization,” Greenstein wrote in an email to staff on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, Sony Pictures also unveiled a shake-up in its overseas marketing team. As part of the change, Paul Noble was upped to the post of co-president of international marketing with Michael Horn stepping down from his perch.

Since joining the company in June 2017, Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Tony Vinciquerra has tasked both the television and film unit with finding ways to be both more nimble and profitable. Layoffs were seen as a key part of achieving that goal, particularly as Sony is now competing with the likes of Time Warner, newly purchased by AT&T, and Disney, the favorite to land much of Fox’s entertainment assets. They have deeper pockets that have left Sony punching up.

On the film side, studio chief Tom Rothman has begun to turn things around after years of box office struggles. The company scored big hits with the likes of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” and “Peter Rabbit.” Recent summer releases such as “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” and “Superfly” have been modest performers, at best. The studio is hoping to recapture its momentum with next fall’s “Venom,” a Spider-Man spinoff, and “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” which finds Claire Foy playing super-sleuth Lisbeth Salander.

In June, Greenstein announced that he was overhauling the marketing infrastructure into different areas of concentration, which he christened global digital centers. They focus on everything from print advertising to earned media, the buzz word for publicity gained by promotional activity instead of paid spots.

“The reorganization will help our department better reflect the realities of how movies are released today, and build the connective tissue needed internally and externally to be effective and efficient,” wrote Greenstein in Wednesday’s email to staff.

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