Imagine Entertainment Enacts Furloughs, Layoffs Due to Coronavirus Pandemic (EXCLUSIVE)

Ron Howard Brian Grazer
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Imagine Entertainment has furloughed less than 20 people and laid off a handful of employees, Variety has learned.

The cuts come as the film and television production company behind “Empire” and “A Beautiful Mind” is grappling with the impact of coronavirus on the entertainment landscape. COVID-19 has shut down production and closed most movie theaters, which, in turn, has put pressure on companies’ revenue streams and profits. The hope is that many of the furloughed employees will be able to return to work once production resumes.

Imagine is hardly alone in reducing staff. Across Hollywood, in businesses large and small, staff cuts and furloughs have become a painful fact of life. Giants such as Disney and ViacomCBS, as well as more boutique players such as Anonymous Content and MGM, have all resorted to pink slipping as the public health crisis has worsened.

A spokesperson for Imagine declined to comment. The furloughs and layoffs have been taking place for the past two weeks.

Imagine, which is run by Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Michael Rosenberg, has several high-profile projects due for release in the coming months. “Hillbilly Elegy,” an adaptation of J.D. Vance’s best-seller, will premiere this fall. It is directed by Howard and backed by Netflix. The company also produced the Bryce Dallas Howard documentary “Dads,” which Apple will open on Father’s Day. Imagine is releasing “Rebuilding Paradise,” Howard’s documentary about the impact of the devastating wildfires in 2018, this summer with Nat Geo.