Fledgling distributor Aviron Pictures has been hit with a significant staff reduction less than a month after the removal of top executive WIlliam Sadleir, numerous insiders told Variety.
Almost half of a staff of 30 were dismissed last week, amid wide rumors that the company’s deep-pocketed financier Black Rock has defunded the outfit entirely, sources said. A full shuttering is expected, they said.
A spokesperson for Aviron and Black Rock had no immediate comment on the matter.
Among those dismissed was all of the marketing group, domestic distribution head Greg Forston and all but one of his team, and publicity chief Claire Heath. Indie veteran David Dinerstein, Aviron’s president, remains in his role, insiders added.
Variety reported in early January that founder Sadleir was removed from his position under a contractual provision given to Black Rock, though the motivation still remains unclear. Variety also reported at the time that a third party had been engaged to evaluate Aviron’s assets, including a minimal film library.
Aviron has five titles to its name, including the unreleased action title “The Informer.” The company had set a limited domestic rollout for March for the film, which stars Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike, and Clive Owen. It’s unclear if the film might be mired in the asset evaluation process (typically a precursor to bankruptcy), or be cleared to sell off (the streamers are on possibility, one person said).
The company’s most successful project is the 2019 film “After,” an adult romance inspired by Harry Styles from author Anna Todd. That grossed $69 million around the world and secured an SVOD pact with Netflix, where it is currently playing. Additional titles include a sequel to the horror franchise “The Strangers,” and another Rosamund Pike drama, “A Private War.”
Deadline Hollywood first reported the news of layoffs.