Lionsgate Film Group Lays Off More Staffers

Joe Drake - Getty - H 2020
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Lionsgate motion picture group CEO Joe Drake.

"While our business remains fundamentally strong, we are not immune to the ongoing COVID crisis that is impacting us like so many other studios," Motion Picture group CEO Joe Drake said in an internal email.

Lionsgate is laying off more employees within its film group amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"While our business remains fundamentally strong, we are not immune to the ongoing COVID crisis that is impacting us like so many other studios," Motion Picture Group CEO Joe Drake said in an internal email obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

The cuts are understood to be around 15 percent of an overall film group workforce of around 450 employees. Besides the current coronavirus pandemic accelerating the need for a streamlining of the film group, the shift to streaming viewership has also brought about the job losses.

The latest layoffs at Lionsgate's film group come as Hollywood grapples with the closure of film and TV productions and movie theaters going dark to prevent the growing spread of COVID-19 amid the global coronavirus pandemic. The cuts do not impact other divisions at Lionsgate.

This is the third round of layoffs under Drake, who was named chairman of the film group in 2018. In January 2019, around 25 employees were let go from the marketing and distribution teams in the company's Santa Monica headquarters amid restructuring of the theatrical marketing division, run by Damon Wolf.

And in March 2020, another 20 employees were given pink slips, some as part of an ongoing restructuring of the film group's marketing and distribution divisions.

The internal email from Joe Drake follows:

Dear Colleagues:

This past May we began the process of reimagining the Motion Picture Group, not only to address this moment of extraordinary change, but to position the group to operate and grow in whatever environment we find ourselves in. As we challenged each of you to help us rethink our business, one thing became clear: while the value and power of the stories we tell are stronger than ever, the significant change we are experiencing in the consumer and distribution landscape is not temporary or slowing down.

While our business remains fundamentally strong, we are not immune to the ongoing COVID crisis that is impacting us like so many other studios. 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. 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.

Impacted employees will learn more as Human Resources communicates the details, but I can share that the company will be providing a minimum of 9 months of healthcare coverage through COBRA regardless of how long you have been employed at Lionsgate, as well as job placement support through Career Minds placement service for as long as it takes to find new employment. And because we know firsthand how outstanding every single one of you are, we are setting up a program for affected employees to have priority introductions to positions as they open up across other areas of Lionsgate and STARZ.

In the next hour, every impacted employee will receive a calendar invite from a senior leader and our HR team where they will begin the transition process. In that meeting they will outline the next steps, and help answer any questions you have.

And while our energy today will be focused primarily on supporting our colleagues that are leaving, for those remaining with us, leadership will be reaching out to you to touch base, and to assure you that the lines of communication are open. Additionally, your Vertical lead will be scheduling a short meeting with your group for tomorrow morning to walk through a schedule of meetings and town halls that will happen over the next week. These subsequent meetings are designed to create transparency and detail around the new structure, share our strategic vision for the future, and answer the questions I am sure you will have.

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.

Joe