Lionsgate Restructures Motion Picture Group Under Joe Drake; Jen Hollingsworth, Ron Schwartz, Damon Wolf To Lead New Divisions

Lionsgate said Friday that it has finalized a reorganization of its Motion Picture Group, with chairman Joe Drake aligning the division into four key verticals — Marketing, Distribution, Strategy and Innovation, and Content — and setting the executives to oversee each.

The newly solidified teams will oversee each project throughout its evolution and lifecycle from development or acquisition to release, downstream and library ancillaries.

With the revamp, Jen Hollingsworth will remain as the group’s COO and expand her oversight to lead Strategy and Innovation team. Ron Schwartz, who as been president of Worldwide Home Entertainment since 2014, will expand his role to lead Worldwide Distribution for all MPG content. Damon Wolf will grow his Global Marketing and Communications oversight to include all platforms and digital content releases along with theatrical and digital releases through the home entertainment window.

Drake will continue to lead the Content vertical. Nathan Kahane (Production), Jason Constantine (Global Acquisitions) and Jenefer Brown (Live, Interactive, and Location Based Entertainment) continue in their roles.

“Since returning to Lionsgate three years ago, my focus and mandate has been reimagining the Motion Picture Group as a place for Artists to thrive,” Drake said in a release announcing the move. Strengthening our company for the realities of a rapidly shifting marketplace has been priority one. That transformation began well before this year, but the pandemic has accelerated these changes and spurred us to adapt and enhance our flexibility. It was essential that we rebuild our operations with a forward-thinking lens. We have the best executive team in the business and we’re collaborating with the best storytellers in the world. I am confident our Motion Picture Group will meet the the unique challenges of the industry today with the innovation, creativity, resolve and resilience that I know is the hallmark characteristic of every Lionsgate employee I am privileged to work with.”

The restructure had been the in works since May, well before the Global Motion Picture Group had to cut 15% of its workforce ahead of it quarterly earnings call last month. They followed layoffs in marketing and distribution in March soon after cinemas closed around the world because of the pandemic.

“Through these changes, our core business remains the same: we are premium content creators and providers working with the world’s best artists who want to see their films presented on the big screen. Lionsgate remains committed to the theatrical experience. Equally, we are also in the unique position to be able to quickly serve consumers changing viewing habits during this time where innovation and flexibility must be embraced. Optionality and consumer preference are critical as fans seek entertainment where they want and how they want and these factors must be our true north star,” Drake said today. “By streamlining and consolidating our operations, we are taking full advantage of our assets, staff, library, and our portfolio, so we are more competitive today, tomorrow, and into the future.”

Lionsgate most recently shifted again the release date for its YA sci-fi adventure Chaos Walking, which will now be released in theaters nationwide and in Imax on March 5 — from its previous January 22 date. Next up for the studio is today’s theatrical and Premium VOD release of Fatale, the the Deon Taylor-directed psychological thriller starring Hilary Swank and Michael Ealy.

During the quarter that ended in November Lionsgate’s motion picture revenues fell to $257 million from $405 million due to theatre closings. That was partially offset by the performance of titles in the PVOD market and digital home entertainment. Segment profit, however, surged 63% to $83 million on strong demand for library content and lower distribution and marketing costs.

Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer, in comments on that earnings call, said the feature film business “saw a massive imbalance between content supply and demand” and the studio responded by greenlighting eight films since May.

Last year, Lionsgate saw three movies open to No. 1 including John Wick: Chapter 3, Angel Has Fallen and Midway, and it also saw some profitable hits in Knives Out and Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral. It has had to retrench in 2020 because of Covid-19 restrictions.

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