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Sony Distribution Chief Rory Bruer Retires After 40 Years at Studio

Variety logo Variety 4/27/2017 Brent Lang
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Rory Bruer is retiring as head of worldwide distribution at Sony Pictures after four decades at the studio.

Sony does not plan to directly replace him. Bruer, who has deep ties with theater owners, will segue into an advisory role at the studio. Adrian Smith and Steven O’Dell will handle domestic and international distribution, respectively. They will report directly to Josh Greenstein, president of worldwide marketing and distribution.

“Though I knew in my heart that the time was right to begin to pull back, it’s hard to let go of a place that has been a part of my life for so long — so when they asked me to stay on as an advisor, I jumped at the chance,” Bruer wrote in a letter to staff. “Not everybody gets to begin this next chapter on their own terms, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”

Bruer first joined the studio in 1977 when it was known as Columbia Pictures, working in the mailroom. He spent his entire career at Sony, rising up the ranks. He has headed up domestic distribution since 2002 and added global distribution to his portfolio in 2008. During his time at Sony, he oversaw the rollouts of several notable releases, including “The Social Network,” “Skyfall,” the “Spider-Man” franchise, and “21 Jump Street.”

Bruer’s tenure overlapped with the 2014 cyber attack that led to the release of several hacked executive emails and precipitated the ouster of studio chief Amy Pascal. Since that time, Sony has struggled at the box office.

“I probably have one of those careers that should be in a book,” Bruer told Variety. “I’ve had such a blessed career here at Sony, starting at mailroom, and working my way through so many regimes. It’s been an incredible ride — there’s no doubt about it.”

Here are the studio-wide notes from Greenstein and Bruer:

Good Morning,

I want to share with you an important change happening in the Motion Picture Group at Sony Pictures.

Rory Bruer, our friend and colleague, has decided to retire at the end of this year. Fortunately for us, retirement for Rory doesn’t mean goodbye – he will segue into an advisory role exclusive to Sony as he shares his time between his family here and his family at home.

Rory is an industry legend. He has been part of the studio for 40 years and has worked for one company his entire career, a rarity in this day and age. He started in the mailroom and rose through the ranks to head up Domestic Distribution since 2002 and Worldwide Distribution since 2008.

All told, Rory has been involved in the distribution of nearly 1,000 releases and helped more than 100 films reach #1 at the box office, including the industry’s first ever $100 million weekend with the first Spider-Man in 2002.

The sheer number of movies he’s helped to make a success is incredible. From Kramer vs. Kramer, Stripes, Steel Magnolias, Terminator 2, Hook, and Places in the Heart to such global blockbusters as Spider-Man 1, 2 & 3, The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2, the four most recent James Bond adventures (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre), The DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons, Sausage Party, Hotel Transylvania 1 and 2, 21 and 22 Jump Street, The Equalizer, Heaven Is for Real, Grown Ups 1 and 2, This Is the End, Men in Black 1, 2 and 3, Captain Phillips, American Hustle, 2012, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network, The Smurfs, District 9, The Karate Kid and countless others.

I am grateful to have worked with Rory from the moment I joined the studio, and it’s great to know that we will continue to work together on our studio’s most important projects.

Leading the department as we move forward, Adrian Smith and Steven O’Dell will continue oversight of their divisions, reporting to me. I’m proud of the work they have done both domestically and internationally, and I know that their teams are in good hands as Steven and Adrian lead us into this next chapter.

See a personal note below from Rory to all of you.

Josh

———————-

Dear Colleagues,

When I joined Columbia Pictures in 1977, I would never have believed what the future could hold for me. It has been the privilege of my life to work with all of you and with so many talented filmmakers, helping to bring their amazing work to so many people.

I’d like to extend my thanks to Tom and Josh. Though I knew in my heart that the time was right to begin to pull back, it’s hard to let go of a place that has been a part of my life for so long – so when they asked me to stay on as an advisor, I jumped at the chance. Not everybody gets to begin this next chapter on their own terms, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.

To my team in Distribution – it has been an honor and a pleasure to work alongside all of you. If I have a legacy at this studio, let it be that I’ve had a hand in helping to build the best team in the business.

I could not be more excited about the future for me personally, for the great times to come at SPE, and most of all, for the great movies that are on their way. It’s like I always say – and it’s never been more true – the best is yet to come!

Rory

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