Sony film division Screen Gems, best known for its lower-budgeted genre and comedy fare, is getting a shake up.
Steve Bersch, the division’s president, is stepping down and retiring after a 16-year stint at Sony Pictures Entertainment. At the same time, Scott Strauss, executive vp of production and development, is taking the moment to exit as well.
Sony Motion Picture Group chair Tom Rothman made the announcement in an email Friday, writing, “Despite my best efforts to persuade him otherwise, Steve Bersch has decided to step down from his role as President, Screen Gems, when his contract ends on December 1st. After nearly 16 years of distinguished service to SPE, and decades more in the business overall, Steve wants to pursue other life adventures – the lucky son of a gun!”
It is unclear who will be named to lead the division or if it will be merged with Sony’s other film divisions.
Bersch joined Sony as the president of Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions in 2008, becoming head of Screen Gems in 2018. He had big shoes to fill as the arm was previously run by Clint Culpepper, the mercurial executive who made the division a driver of profitable hits for many years.
But Bersch made it his own and during his tenure, the executive oversaw the acquisition of hundreds of films, Rothman noted, and departs on the heels of Screen Gems’ latest success for the Insidious franchise, Insidious: The Red Door, which could turn out to be the highest grossing horror movie of the year. Among his acquisition deals was picking up international rights to Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival, and making streaming deals for Tom Hanks’ dramas Greyhound and A Man Called Otto.
Prior to Sony, Bersch held several posts at Twentieth Century Fox.
The departing exec sent along a note to employees regarding his exit: “When I arrived at SPE in January of 2008, I never imagined I would spend almost 16 years here. It’s been a wonderful run. I will miss so many aspects of the company, especially my wonderful colleagues, and the teams at Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and AFFIRM Films. After four decades of working, I’m inspired by the idea of jumping into something new that allows for more travel and more personal flexibility. Tony and Tom have built a great company where you can do your best work, and I am very thankful for the opportunities they provided for me here.”