Sony Animation’s Bob Osher Makes $1.25 Million A Year, But Don’t Compare Your Salary To His


Thanks to a massive data breach at Sony Pictures Entertainment that may or may not have been launched by North Korea over a Seth Rogen film (can’t make this stuff up), we’ve learned this week that Sony sucks at a lot of things besides making films. For starters, they have no clue how to safeguard the privacy of their employees nor secure the company’s sensitive data.

But there’s something else that they’re immensely bad at too, and that’s giving advice to student animators.

At the recent CTN animation circus in Los Angeles, they handed out leaflets explaining how to be a “successful employee.” In the “behaviors to avoid” section, they encouraged young artists to not compare salaries, brazenly telling kids: “Don’t fall for this trick. Know that it’s unprofessional and your salary is no one’s business but yours.”

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

This, of course, is immensely awful advice. Labor experts almost unanimously suggest that it’s a smart thing to share salary data—read this or this for starters.

It’s especially essential in animation, where it’s been shown time and time again that studios will mistreat their employees at every opportunity to save money.

This is not the first time that Sony has attempted to trick young artists with misinformation. In fact, they were called out by a Toronto visual effects industry blog earlier this year when they handed out the same leaflet to Canadian students:

There’s a special kind of misinformation that upsets me.  It’s the kind that takes advantage of my friends and students.

I can understand why a studio would want workers kept in the dark from knowing how much their co-workers are making.  An ignorant employee is easily manipulated into earning less money than they are worth.  If you knew that your co-worker who was doing the same work as you was earning significantly more money, you might get upset and ask for more next time.  

What I find particularly galling is that this is given out as ‘advice’ to students.  Students are the most vulnerable segment of our industry, and should be looked after, mentored and protected. They are our future co-workers, peers and friends.  When I read this, it pretty much says to me that new people in our industry should remain oblivious to working conditions and be happy with whatever the studio decides to pay them.

Bob Osher oversees Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks.

Bob Osher oversees Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks.

This story might have ended on a depressing note if not for the delicious bit of schadenfreude resulting from Sony’s own incompetence. Among the files leaked in this week’s data breach was a spreadsheet containing salary data for 6,000 of their employees, including top studio executives.

According to that data, Sony Digital Productions president Bob Osher, who oversees both Sony Pictures Animation and Imageworks, is one of seventeen employees at the studio who earns more than $1 million per year. To be specific, he makes $1,250,000 annually.

But don’t ever ask Osher about why he makes so much money running the studio responsible for Smurfs 2. That would be unprofessional.

  • Scrap Doodle

    Typical corporate stuff.

  • VFX Soldier

    I saw that same paper which I took a pic of at Siggraph in Vancouver. For those of you interested the salary survey they all use is in the hack and available if you know where to look.

  • Robert Kohr

    Really interesting podcast about salaries

    Basically that in an established setting it can cause trouble, but when building something from scratch it can work to everyones benefit.

    I’m not taking a side, just regurgitating the podcast.

    • talos72

      It may cause trouble for the company, but if the said company treated all its employees fairly and equally there would be no room for resentment between employees or between employees and the comany.

  • Jonathan Lyons

    Meanwhile, they are sharing salary information with other studios to keep them as low as possible. That’s why I laugh every time some boss says the company is a “family.”

    • talos72

      A family where the step children are treated like crap…kind of like one of Disney’s fairy tale movies.

  • Matt

    It is also against California law to tell an employee to not share salary information with other employees. Also against the law to fire someone for sharing their personal salary information with other employees. Sony might want to change their leaflets.

  • Ryoku240

    For once North Korea does something useful, well if the rumors are true.

  • Pedro Nakama

    That’s a lot of money for a guy who doesn’t know how to make a movie.

  • Malcolm Loo

    The podcast also said confidential salaries are entirely for the company’s benefit and doesn’t do jack for employees.

  • James VanDam

    Remember back in high school when your history class studied the industrial revolution and all the mistreatment of employees? Remember the saying that “if we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it”?

    • JodyMorgan

      What do you mean? My history book explained how the company owners and executives treated their employees fairly, like a family, until those communistic unions came along and upset the applecart. Surely you’re not taking issue with “Disney•Pixar’s Story of America”, are you?

  • Animator606432

    I’m actually amazed at how unprofessional these huge companies are. Stories like this and the price fixing one is given me more and more reason to ditch animation and just sick with illustration. I’ll do animation in my spare time and maybe do some commissions but as far as working for a big studio……..I’m pretty much done. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always wanted to work for Disney or Dreamworks. I wanted to show the big studios that traditional animation, CG, and Stop Motion called all exist in the same field but now, those dreams are crushed. :(

  • coalminds

    People aren’t still being surprised by corporate behavior I hope..

  • Harry Bastard

    Well, that WOULD explain that ‘just humped the cat’ grin on his face. Yerg.

  • Googamp32

    And, this is why I bought a Wii U instead of a PS4.

  • Floyd Norman

    Ha! I think that Sony leaflet was simply a test. If you believe all the BS in the hand out, you’re too dumb to work in the cartoon business.

  • AmidAmidi

    Your words are much appreciated, Barrett. Thanks.

  • Ryoku240

    “Taking work at a large studio means you should assume that your private information will be leaked on the internet???”

    Big studio, big name, big target, its not like Sony doesn’t have a history of being hacked.

    “When was the last time you looked at a job offer and the first question you had was “Will my passport, social insurance, and medical history end up publicized on the internet?””

    You’d be naive to not consider the safety of your information when applying for a job.

    • Imagequirks

      You’ve deflected without answering the question. When was the last time you looked at a job offer and the first question
      you had was “Will my passport, social insurance, and medical history end
      up publicized on the internet?” I think I can guess the true response that you’d be reluctant to give is “It hasn’t been a main concern for any job contract I’ve ever signed.”

      • Ryoku240

        Out of the countless interviews and applications I’ve signed I always considered the security of my information.

        Theres your answer, now get back to your job.

  • bob_dun_wrong_911

    Thats also a lot of money (not to mention his annual increases and bonuses) for an exec who has put a salary freeze on every film professional and tech at the compay since his inception, for an exec who has shredded families and careers by single handedly dismantling the los angeles studio, and for an exec who issues a ‘move to vancouver or be terminated’ ultimatum leaving employees that do move high and dry in one of the worlds most expensive cities without work. It was not uncommon to find devil horns superimposed on his photo at the studio, and as far as im concearned he immediately reeked of the beginning of the end for a shop that was once proud of its quality of work, technical prowess, and self motivating collaboration. At this point is it nearly impossible to comprehend any kind of recovery.

    bob osher is as duck dynasty as it gets for an executive.
    He fishes with shotguns, and then pats himself on the back when the carcasses all float to the surface. (guess who just got his contract renewed with complete disregard for the bulimic employment practices the hundreds of people who actually make the film have to contend with) I’m convinced, that in the same way he wont be bringing any fish home for dinner, hes just going to pack up his hummer and drive off into a sunset of financial freedom with this mess strewn behind him.

  • Imagequirks

    For the record, Sony Imageworks was the highest paying job I’ve ever had and they treated us very well. This makes me even more upset at all these people who are standing on the sidelines and taking so much satisfaction in watching them burn. North Korea has done nothing useful here. All they’ve done is destroy freedom of expression now that The Interview has been pulled from theaters. Say good bye to any remaining Hollywood productions that were interested in pushing boundaries. Now we’re in for nothing but safe boring scripts that are guaranteed to make money with no controversy.

    • Ryoku240

      If you’re going to put words into my mouth than I have no reason to answer your questions, you already have an answer.

      Consider that other people at Sony may be seeing this argument, do you seriously want them to see you arguing with a nobody like me?