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Annapurna has become the latest entertainment company to shed staff members amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Where’d You Go, Bernadette studio’s CFO James Pong, assistants and junior staff members are among those who have been let go during the economic fallout that has ensued from the worldwide pandemic.
The film industry has been rocked by layoffs and furloughs over the past month, impacting major studios and smaller production companies alike. Earlier this month, Disney began furloughing staff across its sprawling movie empire, including Marvel Studios, and mandating salary reductions throughout its executive ranks.
Lionsgate let go nearly 20 employees from the film marketing and distribution divisions. In March, agencies like Endeavor and Paradigm handed out pink slips, while UTA and CAA avoided that measure by instituting salary reductions. Even a company like Blumhouse, which has continued to take in revenue with films like The Hunt and The Invisible Man newly available on SVOD, laid off eight staffers.
“Annapurna is making modest adjustments to our staffing given the current business climate,” an Annapurna representative said in a statement. Variety was first to report the story.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Annapurna had been expected to make staff reductions as the company struggled to muster up enough revenues to offset its large overhead (in February 2019, Annapurna had a staff of 80). But the company blew through some $200 million in revolving credit used to release such box office duds as Destroyer ($5.6 million globally), The Sisters Brothers ($13.1 million) and Where’d You Go, Bernadette ($10.4 million).
In August, Annapurna retained a law firm to explore bankruptcy protection but ultimately renegotiated a deal with its lenders instead. In the aftermath, the company opted not to release films like Miranda July’s Kajillionaire (Focus Features picked it up).
Still, insiders say Ellison was determined to avoid layoffs and had been covering payroll during lean times. But as the coronavirus prompted lockdowns across the world, and with movie productions and releases grinding to a halt, that fate became unavoidable.
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