Doug Belgrad is stepping down as president of the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
Belgrad, who has held the No. 2 post in the studio’s film group since 2014, was considered a top candidate to succeed Amy Pascal when she gave up her role as chairman in 2015. But Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Michael Lynton instead put former 20th Century Fox chief Tom Rothman in charge of the studio’s film operations as its motion picture group chairman. Belgrad, having played a role in setting up the studio’s 2016 and 2017 slates, likely will now segue into a producing deal with the studio sometime after the release of Ghostbusters in July.
The news comes a day after Sony’s top television executive Steve Mosko agreed to step down from his post after a nearly 24-year run at the studio. A rep for Sony declined to comment.
Another longtime Sony veteran, Belgrad joined the studio’s Columbia Pictures executive training program in 1989 and worked his way up the ranks, becoming co-president of production at Columbia in 2003 and president of the label in 2008. Seen as Pascal’s loyal lieutenant, he was put in charge of all the studio’s production labels, including Columbia, TriStar, Screen Gems and Affirm, when he was named president of the motion picture group in July 2014.
Since Sony’s last breakout release, 2015’s James Bond adventure Spectre, which grossed $880 million worldwide, the studio has had to endure a string of disappointments. Its December Oscar hopeful Concussion was shut out of the Academy Awards and grossed just $49 million worldwide. More recently, Screen Gems’ Pride and Prejudice and Zombies scared up just $16 million worldwide, while the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy The Brothers Grimsby debuted March 11 to an opening weekend of a paltry $3.3 million.
However, the studio is betting on a change of fortune with the animated The Angry Birds Movie, which has grossed $75 million domestic since debuting May 20, the new Ghostbusters (opening July 15) and Inferno, the latest Dan Brown novel adaptation starring Tom Hanks and directed by Ron Howard (bowing Oct. 28).