Annapurna Pictures Makes Film & TV Executive Cuts, Including CFO James Pong

Deadline has confirmed that Annapurna has made staff cuts, including CFO James Pong, amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis.

For the most part, per a spokesperson for the company, the small set of cuts aren’t impacting senior brass, rather junior executives in film and TV and a handful of assistants. The studio is making modest adjustments given the current economic climate, down to senior executives taking a pay cut.

In October 2018, news broke that the prestigious, Oscar-winning studio was besieged with financial problems. At the time, Annapurna’s feature production head Chelsea Barnard exited with two notable projects departing the studio as well, Hustlers to STX and Bombshell to Lionsgate. Recently, it was announced that Brad Pitt’s Plan B, which had a first look at Annapurna, relocated its deal to Warner Bros.

In the wake of Annapurna’s financial woes, it entered into a distribution and marketing pact with MGM called United Artists Releasing. Annapurna’s TV unit has been significantly more active than its feature side, with the scripted version of the Netflix doc The Staircase in the works with Harrison Ford.

The film division had a heyday during the 2018-2019 awards season with Oscar winner Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk and Adam McKay’s Vice. But Annapurna’s 2019 slate misfired at the box office with LAIKA’s Missing Link ($26.2M WW), Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart ($24.9M) and the Cate Blanchett comedy Where’d You Go, Bernadette? ($10.4M WW).

In the wake of Sundance, Annapurna unloaded Plan B’s Kajillionaire from director Miranda July to Focus Features.

Deadline broke the news about Annapurna’s tug of war with the banks last summer, which was resolved with Annapurna boss Megan Ellison’s father, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, submitting a “last and final offer” to pay the studio’s key lenders 80 cents-85 cents on the dollar. This was for a $200M chunk of debt that the company defaulted on through its $350M credit facility.

Variety first reported the news.

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