WarnerMedia to Lay Off Thousands as Coronavirus Hammers Bottom Line

WSJ reports company is looking to cut costs by 20%

Last Updated: October 8, 2020 @ 12:36 PM

WarnerMedia is preparing another round of sweeping layoffs as the coronavirus continues to hammer the company’s bottom line.

The impending layoffs, which were first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, are expected to be in the thousands and affect employees across Warner Bros. studios and TV networks HBO, TBS and TNT. A rep for WarnerMedia declined to comment on the number of cuts or the divisions affected. The WSJ added that WarnerMedia is looking to cut costs by as much as 20%.

“Like the rest of the entertainment industry, we have not been immune to the significant impact of the pandemic,” a WarnerMedia spokesman said. “We are in the midst of that process and it will involve increased investments in priority areas and, unfortunately, reductions in others.”

The cuts are the latest changes under CEO Jason Kilar, who took over in May. Since then, Kilar has completely remade WarnerMedia by breaking down the traditional walls of the studio, television and premium cable divisions, bringing all content creation into one operation, while at the same time creating a separate focus on HBO Max. That restructure resulted in numerous executives leaving, most prominently Bob Greenblatt and Kevin Reilly. On Thursday, WarnerMedia also hired Jean-Paul “JP” Colaco as its new head of ad sales; Colaco had worked with Kilar at Hulu and Vessel. The position had been open for more than a year.

When TheWrap spoke with Kilar in August, he admitted there would be job cuts.

Warner Bros. was hoping the release of “Tenet” would herald a comeback of the theater business, but with the pandemic still raging around the country, major markets like New York and Los Angeles remain closed. To date, “Tenet” has only grossed $45 million in the U.S. (and $307 million globally). In last week, studios have pushed most major releases that were slated for the rest of 2020 into next year, and two major theater chains have decided to close back down with no new movies on the horizon.