Entertainment One ending theatrical distribution in Canada and Spain

A small number of staff have been laid off in Canada, Playback understands, as the company plans to continue non-theatrical distribution.

Entertainment One (eOne) will discontinue theatrical distribution in Canada and Spain, Playback Daily has learned from someone close to the situation.

The Hasbro-owned prodco and distributor has not issued a statement about the move but Playback understands a small number of roles in Canada were impacted, with those employees notified of the layoffs on Tuesday (June 28). A reason for the exit from theatrical in those territories is not known.

The entertainment media company plans to continue to have content licensing representatives in Canada and Spain, and produce and acquire rights for feature films in those territories and globally. It also plans to continue non-theatrical film distribution in those territories and retain its library titles.

No other areas of eOne’s business are said to have been impacted and its offices remain open in Montreal and Toronto.

It remains to be seen what the impact of the decision will be on the theatrical landscape for Canadian cinema, but the effects are likely to be more immediate on the French-language side. Montreal is the home of eOne subsidiary Les Films Séville, and one of the largest film distributors in Quebec.

Séville president Patrick Roy spoke with La Presse about the withdraw from distribution, noting his contract ended this week but the Montreal banner “continues to exist” with some employees retaining their jobs. The distributor’s most recent Canadian release is animated film Vaillante.

Toronto is where eOne’s TV operations are handled and where eOne Films Canada is headquartered. Darren Throop is president and CEO of company, which also has offices in the U.S., the U.K., China, Spain and Brazil. Steve Bertram is eOne’s president of film and television and Olivier Dumont is president of family brands.

U.S.-based Hasbro completed its acquisition of eOne in December 2019 and brought several eOne execs onboard. In February 2021, eOne reduced its film and TV teams by 10% in several territories.

Previously marketed as the largest independent film distributor in Canada, the company (formerly ROW Entertainment) became known as Entertainment One in 2005. It grew into a distribution powerhouse, with acquisitions including Montreal-based Seville Entertainment and Contender Entertainment Group of London in 2007, and Alliance Films in 2013.

Its most recent theatrical releases in Canada include Clifford the Big Red Dog (pictured).

Montreal-based Marc Griffin, who has previously worked as a producer with eOne, tweeted about the news: “Big loss. Major loss in Canadian cinema.”

The Association québecoise de la production médiatique (AQPM) issued a news release on Wednesday saying feature film producers in the province are “losing an important partner and a talented team driven by a real love of Quebec cinema and its creators.”

AQPM said its president and CEO, Hélène Messier, spoke with Roy about the news and films currently distributed by Les Films Séville in theatres or scheduled for the calendar. He assured them that the films will indeed be offered to the public as planned and that no production house will be penalized, said the release.

The films in the Les Films Séville catalogue hold great cultural richness and must remain within a Quebec company, said the AQPM.

“Only a Quebec company will be able to appreciate the richness of this catalogue and promote its outreach and marketing for the benefit of audiences and rights holders,” said Messier, in a statement.

Photo courtesy of eOne