Changes continue at Sony Pictures amid the wake of the pre-Thanksgiving announcement that it plans to cut $250M in costs during the next few years as it shifts focus from movies to TV. Layoffs were announced today including Sony Pictures Technology President Chris Cookson, as his department is being absorbed into Sony Pictures Entertainment. A source familiar with the situation tells Deadline that the number of job cuts was “under 50” and that they also affect Sony’s home entertainment unit and ani/VFX house Imageworks. “As part of the Company’s previously announced efforts to evolve its operations, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is absorbing the functions of Sony Pictures Technologies into various core businesses,” SPE spokesman Charles Sipkins said in a statement. “Regrettably, Chris Cookson will leave the Company as a result. In related moves, SPE has streamlined technology groups across its businesses to accelerate creative and technological innovation. The entire Company wishes to express its deep gratitude to Chris, his team, and the other groups involved in these changes.”
This is just the latest in a slew of changes at Sony since the refocus and cost-cutting plans were announced at its November 21 investors meeting. That gathering came after a tumultuous summer for the company during which hedge fund honcho Daniel Loeb urged Sony to spin off its entertainment unit and later slammed the company over its tentpole films that he said “bombed spectacularly.” George Clooney rebutted those comments by ripping Loeb. At the investors meeting a few months later, Sony Corp CEO Kazuo Hirai strongly endorsed the entertainment unit, calling it “crucial” to the company.
Indeed, two weeks after the shareholders gathering, Michael De Luca was tapped as President of Production for Columbia Pictures. Earlier this month, Man Jit Singh — former CEO of the operating company that handles Sony Pictures Television’s TV networks in India — was named head of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, replacing David Bishop, whose contract wasn’t renewed. All that followed a shakeup of Sony’s marketing department that saw Dwight Caines installed as President of Theatrical Marketing. He replaced Marc Weinstock, whose exit came less than a week after Sony announced that top PR guy Steve Elzer was leaving the company.