“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,” Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton wrote in an internal email to staffers. The conciliatory tone was quite different from Lynton’s personal emails, which were leaked last December, when he hinted to then-Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal that Osher was incompetent and should be fired:
“I am only sorry that left bob to his own devices and let it get to this point. And we just renewed Bob which is also a problem given what we will probably have to do. That being said we should do it.”
The new head of Sony Pictures Digital Productions will be the group’s executive vice president Randy Lake. As part of an organizational restructuring, Sony Pictures Animation will no longer operate under the Digital Productions umbrella, and will be run independently by former DreamWorks producer Kristine Belson, who was hired last month. Meanwhile, the vfx arm Imageworks will be absorbed by the studio’s motion picture group.
Last year when The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were approached by Sony to run its animation division, they turned down the offer, citing the talent drain at Sony Pictures Animation, and the low morale at Imageworks due to multiple subsidy-driven relocations to New Mexico and Vancouver, Canada. Osher’s cutthroat approach to operating the divisions had led to renewed efforts by employees to unionize Imageworks in 2012.
Osher joined Sony in 2004 as the COO of Columbia Pictures Motion Picture Group. He joined the studio after serving as co-president of production for Miramax, where he oversaw the production of Shakespeare in Love and Chicago, and helped create the reality series Project Runway. He previously was co-founder and executive vice president of Turner Pictures Group, where he co-headed Turner Feature Animation. From 1989 to 1995, Osher worked at Walt Disney Studios, where he rose to senior vice president in charge of business and legal affairs for Walt Disney, Touchstone Pictures and Disney Feature Animation.
Here is the full text of Lynton’s email to Sony employees announcing Osher’s departure:
I wanted to share with you some news about changes to Sony Pictures Digital Productions (SPDP).
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.
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.