Sony Revolt: Top Dealmaker Andrew Gumpert Exits Amid Studio Friction

Andrew Gumpert
Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Epilepsy Foundation/AP Images

President of worldwide business affairs and operations at Columbia Pictures. Worked as senior vp business and legal affairs at Weinstein's Miramax (1996-2004)

Biggest takeaway: "Harvey was a big proponent of getting in the room with the other side," says Gumpert. "He believed you literally had to be face-to-face to close a deal." Now at Sony, Gumpert relies on that strategy whenever a deal stalls, sometimes jumping in his car and popping up unexpectedly to iron out the kinks in person, as he did recently on the Brad Pitt film Fury. "I said I did what Harvey and Bob [Weinstein] would've wanted me to do. I closed the deal."

Gumpert, one of Hollywood's most respected business affairs executives, is said to have clashed with studio chairman Tom Rothman.

Andrew Gumpert, the head of Sony Pictures' business affairs group and one of the most respected dealmakers in Hollywood, is exiting his post in the latest sign of unrest at the Sony film studio.

Gumpert, an 11-year Sony veteran whose title was president worldwide business affairs and operations, is one of several top executives who have expressed frustration in recent weeks with studio chairman Tom Rothman, whose abrasive management style has alienated some of his staff. Those complaints have reached Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton.

When Rothman took the top job at Sony in 2015, Gumpert was elevated to the top dealmaker job for all of the studio's labels, from TriStar to Columbia Pictures to Screen Gems. He began his dealmaking career at the entertainment law firm Hill Wynne Troop before joining Sony in a legal affairs job. He then did a seven-year stint at Miramax during the Harvey Weinstein heyday before returning to Sony in the top business affairs job. He was honored in 2015 with The Hollywood Reporter's Raising the Bar award at its annual Power Lawyers event.

But friction between Rothman and several senior staffmembers, including Gumpert, has come to a head in recent weeks. In the wake of Gumpert's exit, Mike Marshall has been promoted executive vp to president of business affairs for the Columbia Pictures unit.

Here is the memo to staff from Rothman:

Good morning,

I am writing to inform you of some important changes taking place within Business Affairs in the Motion Picture Group.

Andrew Gumpert, President of Business Affairs for MPG, will be leaving the company this week. Concurrent with Andrew’s departure, Mike Marshall will be promoted to President of business affairs for Columbia Pictures.

I want to thank Andrew for his years of outstanding service to SPE. Andrew has expertly guided SPE through some of the studio’s biggest and most complex deals, and made possible many of our greatest successes. I wish him all the best in the next chapter of his career.

Mike is an absolute pro with firm commitment to our mission, and I am thrilled to have him at the helm of business affairs at our flagship label. We anticipate a seamless transition.

For the last 20 months, we have worked together to restructure and strengthen the Motion Picture Group. As you all know, the kind of wholesale change we are working towards is a challenging effort that takes time, and I want to thank all of you for your ongoing commitment. We are feeling very good about our recent results, as evidenced by the recent quarterly earnings report, and, moving forward into 2017, confident in our new slate and turnaround efforts overall.

Please join me in thanking Andrew for his contributions to SPE and congratulating Mike on his promotion.