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Layoffs Begin at WarnerMedia After Major Reorganization

Warner Bros. CFO Kim Williams and top distribution execs Jeffrey Schlesinger and Ron Sanders were among the cuts

WarnerMedia began layoffs Monday morning following the wide-scale restructuring under new CEO Jason Kilar, which was announced last Friday.

The cuts were across multiple film and TV units, with Warner Bros. and HBO particularly impacted, though it is not immediately clear how many staffers were laid off. The cuts are expected to continue throughout the next few days.

Among the layoffs were three senior executives at Warner Bros.: Jeff Schlesinger, Kim Williams and Ron Sanders. Williams was CFO while Schlesinger and Sanders were both distribution heads. Sanders led worldwide distribution for theaters and home entertainment, while Schlesinger led television distribution.

In addition, the majority of the staff of the 2-year-old streaming service DC Universe has been let go as the company shifts its focus to the recently launched HBO Max, and there were cuts at DC Comics as well, an individual with knowledge of the company said. The future of the DC Universe platform remains unclear.

The layoffs come a few days after WarnerMedia underwent a massive reorganization that led to the departure of two top executives.

Kilar shattered the traditional walls of the studio, television and premium cable divisions, rolled all content creation into one operation, while also creating a separate focus on HBO Max that places the nascent streamer at the forefront of its business strategy. Kilar’s moves came just one day after NBCUniversal made a similarly convention-shattering change. Two highly respected executives, Bob Greenblatt and Kevin Reilly, were ousted while Andy Forssell, Ann Sarnoff and Casey Bloys were given more prominent roles.

Kilar told TheWrap Friday that layoffs were coming. “We have two international organizations today that are going to become one. In that situation, the natural decision that needs to be made that says, ‘OK, you’re not going to have two people doing the same thing.’ You have to make the tough choice to decide who is going to be the leader in a certain area. Obviously, I had to do that, and I did that with content in terms of Ann Sarnoff. These are not easy decisions, these are not performance-oriented decisions. And those will happen and you should expect to see [more] reductions.”

WarnerMedia, along with other media companies, have had to make cuts and salary reductions amid a still-spreading coronavirus pandemic that upended much of the entertainment industry’s business. NBCUniversal began a round of layoffs last week.