Sony Shake-Up Continues: Digital Chief Out

Bob Osher - P 2015
AP Images/Invision

Bob Osher - P 2015

Bob Osher is exiting from his position as the head of Sony Pictures Digital.

Bob Osher, the head of Sony Pictures Digital, has been let go, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

The move was months in the making and likely not a surprise to astute Sony watchers. That it happened the same week as Tom Rothman taking the reins from fired Amy Pascal shows that Sony is in full housecleaning mode.

Osher has been with the studio since 2004. In 2008, he was named president of the digital production division of Sony Pictures Entertainment. As digital president, he ran Sony Pictures Animation and Imageworks. But in recent months, there were many signs that shifts were taking place under his feet.

When Michelle Raimo Kouyate stepped down from her position as SPA’s production president, Kristine Belson was brought in as president of the division, not as production president, an important distinction. And Belson was to report directly to Pascal, not Osher, putting SPA under the purview of the live-action division.

More tellingly, emails leaked during the Sony hack showed how the higher-ups, including Pascal and Michael Lynton, had lost faith in the executive and were mulling a termination.

Part of the problem was that SPA was suffering creative stagnation, and key members of the animation community were actively avoiding the division.

In a memo to Sony staffers, Lynton  downplayed the termination aspect and played up Osher's shepherding of three franchises for SPA and his Imageworks work:

Bob Osher, currently President of SPDP, has decided to leave the studio to pursue other interests. I want to thank Bob for his 11 years of service and acknowledge the important role he played in strengthening the financial and operational foundation of SPDP, including launching successful franchises for Sony Pictures Animation (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Smurfs, and Hotel Transylvania) as well as turning Sony Pictures Imageworks into a profitable leading visual-effects company. Please join me in thanking him for his many contributions and wishing him the best in his future endeavors.

Lynton also confirmed the reorganization:
Separately, we are making some operational changes to SPDP’s businesses in order to increase collaboration across the studio and unite teams that work closely together. Imageworks will now be part of the Motion Picture Group. Post Production Services, Worldwide Product Fulfillment, Production Services, and Asset Management will now be aligned with both the Motion Picture Group and Sony Pictures Television. Randy Lake, Executive Vice President of SPDP, will continue in his new role leading the organization, reporting jointly to both the Television and Motion Picture Group.