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Lionsgate on Friday handed out another 25 pink slips to employees. Most of the latest layoffs at the studio will impact the Motion Picture Group, where Joe Drake was last year named chairman and Nathan Kahane was tapped as president.
“As we look forward to the future with an ambitious and exciting 2019 theatrical slate, filled with big kickass crowd-pleasing movies as well as daring films with something to say, this is also a time to reassess some of the Motion Picture Group’s internal structure, processes and communication,” Drake told studio employees in an internal letter obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
“As some colleagues will be departing, we wish them the very best on their continued career trajectory,” Drake added, without putting a number on the job losses.
Lionsgate is also changing its partnership with its film label Codeblack Films, which allowed the studio to target the African-American urban market. Jeff Clanagan in 2012 first pacted with Lionsgate and based his company at the studio.
The recent shake-up at Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group also saw former Good Universe and Disney exec Erin Westerman appointed executive vp production. The studio also named Damon Wolf to replace Tim Palen as president of worldwide theatrical marketing, and he started work on Jan. 1.
Most of the latest job losses follow the centralization of the studio’s film marketing and distribution efforts in the Santa Monica headquarters. From around 50 employees working in the New York office, eight were laid off as theatrical marketing and distribution shifts to Los Angeles.
Lionsgate had a tough year at the theatrical box office, as its domestic share slid from 8 percent in 2017 to 3.4 percent in 2018, when revenue topped out at $389 million. This year’s movie slate includes titles like John Wick 3; Hellboy; Flarsky, starring Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron; and Roland Emmerich’s Midway.
The 25 layoffs in all come from a Lionsgate workforce of around 1,600 employees.
A copy of the Joe Drake letter to employees is below.
Dear Colleagues: As we look forward to the future with an ambitious and exciting 2019 theatrical slate, filled with big kick-ass crowd pleasing movies as well as daring films with something to say, this is also a time to reassess some of the Motion Picture Group’s internal structure, processes and communication.
With the new senior management team in place, we are implementing a company wide Data-First Driven Strategy, expanding the Lionsgate Data Center (LDC) throughout our business. The LDC will be instrumental to the conversations we have and the decisions we make every day regarding development, marketing and distribution of our films, as well as a robust driver in our Lionsgate 360 strategic vision.
As we continue to adapt our business to the evolving market, we will be centralizing most Motion Picture Group business units to Santa Monica as well as realigning our Domestic and International Marketing Departments into one Global Marketing Group. As some colleagues will be departing, we wish them the very best on their continued career trajectory.
We are constantly looking at ways to better align our company with our industry’s evolving landscape and therefore the needs of the audience and our customers. We couldn’t be more thrilled about what 2019 has in store for us as a company, our exciting upcoming film slate, the new leadership team, as well as the agility that has always been a cornerstone of the company, allowing us to implement new ideas quickly and efficiently.
Sincerely, Joe Drake
Jan. 13, 11:20 a.m. PT Updated to reflect that Lionsgate is not closing the label Codeblack; the label will continue to operate autonomously.
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