The exodus of staff from 20th Century Fox Film Distributors’ Sydney head office continues following the departures of Australasian MD Marc Wooldridge and several other senior executives.

Large-scale lay-offs seemed inevitable in the wake of the Walt Disney Company’s $US71.3 billion takeover of most of Fox’s prized assets.

Wooldridge finished up at the end of June after 27 years with the company and Jo Bladen stepped down as Disney’s general manager, studios and live entertainment after 21 years with Disney.

Head of marketing Sue Zerk has departed after 14 years with the company while Melbourne-based sales manager Paul Timos, a 30-year Fox veteran, and head of sales David Townsend (20-plus years) will leave at the end of this month.

A handful of Sydney staff, most if not all from the publicity department, are moving to Disney’s Melbourne office, IF understands.

The remaining staff including admin and booking will continue for the time being, preparing for several releases including Ad Astra, James Gray’s sci-fi movie starring Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones, which premieres on September 19.

Fox Searchlight’s Ready or Not, a horror movie co-directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, starring Aussie Samara Weaving, Mark O’Brien, Adam Brody, Henry Czerny and Andie MacDowell, which launches in the US on August 21, is scheduled to open here as a Disney release in October.

Disney has offered generous severance packages.

Since the Fox/Disney deal closed in March, the company has been working towards a projected target of $US2 billion in so-called merger-related synergies.

Among the latest casualties at Fox this week were John Kilkenny, who headed visual effects, Fred Baron, executive VP of feature production, Dana Belcastro, EVP of physical production and Fred Chandler, EVP of post production.

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