Lionsgate is laying off 15% of its motion picture group, citing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joe Drake, chairman of the motion picture group, informed employees of the cuts on Thursday. A source said the layoffs will impact about 15% of the department. Lionsgate has about 450 employees.
“While our business remains fundamentally strong, we are not immune to the ongoing COVID crisis that is impacting us like so many other studios,” Drake said in a note to employees. “These demands on our business necessitate that we accelerate changes to our own operations and strategic plan. And today, in order to meet the challenges and opportunities in front of us, we begin the implementation of a reorganization of the Motion Picture Group around four globally integrated verticals. This means that individuals across the MPG will be impacted as groups are being combined, and new roles have been defined or eliminated as part of this process.”
“As a leader whose first priority is ‘A Best Place to Work,’ it is with a heavy heart that I tell you as part of the changes to our operational structure, we will be saying goodbye to a number of our colleagues, friends and co-workers today,” Drake said. “These decisions are not a reflection of their immense talent, the quality of their work or the meaningful contributions they have made at our company. We recognize that this is a challenging moment in our industry, and to provide as much support as we can to those colleagues leaving us, we are making enhancements to our separation policy in a number of areas including healthcare, job support and severance.”
Lionsgate announced on March 30 that it had laid off nearly 20 employees, primarily in its feature film marketing and distribution department, as part of a restructuring that was not influenced by the coronavirus outbreak. Lionsgate, like all studios, has pulled theatrical releases due to the pandemic, including Chris Rock-Samuel L. Jackson’s “Saw” reboot, Janelle Monae’s “Antebellum” and Sarah Paulson’s “Run.” “Antebellum” is being released on PVOD and “Run” has been sold to Hulu.
The pandemic has upended release plans for all Hollywood studios as moviegoers remain reluctant to return to multiplexes. Most major titles have been moved out of 2020.
Drake concluded the note Thursday by saying, “To those colleagues who are leaving, we are enormously grateful to each and every one of you. You provided this company with your voice, your ideas and a commitment to excellence that made a difference every day. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly if I can help answer any questions or if I can be of service as you decide where to direct your talents next.”
Lionsgate is scheduled to report quarterly earnings after the stock market closes Thursday.