1091 Media Lays Off 25% of Staff as Distributor Looks to Release Fewer Films

Company scaling back to just four to six theatrical releases a year

1091 Media laid off roughly 25% of its workforce on Friday, resulting in nine employees in the company’s marketing and distribution division, as well as other areas, losing their jobs.

In addition to the layoffs, COO and CFO Chad Blackwell and Chief Revenue Officer Julie Dansker also announced that the indie distributor will release fewer films going forward as part of a shift in its strategic vision.

“We have a new strategic vision, which focuses on four to six traditional theatrical releases a year, continuing to build on a strong, curated slate of ancillary/non-theatrical titles,” Blackwell and Dansker wrote in a staff memo. “This realignment of our priorities will more effectively service our filmmakers and the broader content creator community in the next chapter of our growth.”

The reductions and shift in focus come just a few months after 1091 Media Investment Group acquired the film division of The Orchard. The company was rebranded in April and Paul Davidson, who at the time was The Orchard Film Group’s executive vice president of film and TV, stepped down after the sale.

Daniel Stein, a principal with 1091 Media alongside Joe Samberg, took on the role of executive chairman of 1091 after the company was rebranded.

Under The Orchard banner, the studio released films including “What We Do in the Shadows,” “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” “The Hero” and “Neruda.” Upcoming releases include Werner Herzog’s “Meeting Gorbachev” and “Halston,” the story of the minimalist fashion designer of the same name.

Read the full memo to staff:

Dear Team,

With our new leadership in place and our strategic vision set, we are focused on building our company in the most efficient and effective way possible. It is with that in mind, that we have made the difficult decision that a reduction in force is necessary to achieve optimal growth at 1091 and allow us to run more efficiently.

We have a new strategic vision, which focuses on 4 to 6 traditional theatrical releases a year, continuing to build on a strong, curated slate of ancillary/non-theatrical titles. 1091 will continue to lean into categories at which they excel including documentary and action sports, strategic partnerships, and event based releases like last year’s hit, “The Dawn Wall.”

This realignment of our priorities will more effectively service our filmmakers and the broader content creator community in the next chapter of our growth.

As we continue to navigate an exciting evolving industry landscape and as new content platforms develop, we can say with certainty that 1091 will continue to collaborate and work closely with the independent film community and foster relationships with talented filmmakers. Our goal is to bring high-quality, curated film and television content to global audiences by developing partnerships and technology that help us do so in meaningful ways.

While days like these are hard for us and many of our colleagues, we are thankful to the entire staff for their hard work and dedication. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to us directly.

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