Steven Spielberg Is Firing Tons Of People

By Sean Thiessen | Updated

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Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg is going to need a smaller boat. As covered by The Hollywood Reporter, Spielberg’s company Amblin Partners is laying off 20 percent of its roughly 100-person staff. The move comes after the company struck a new deal with its longtime studio partner Universal.

Amblin Partners, Steven Spielberg’s production company, is laying off 20 percent of its staff.

Amblin’s new multi-year deal with Universal will make the studio a co-financier of Amblin projects. The company behind Steven Speilberg classics like E.T. and the Indiana Jones films has long financed its own projects. Its last deal with Universal only gave the studio the first right to distribute Amblin films.

The new deal keeps Steven Spielberg at what he called his “ancestral studio home,” but the resizing of the company comes along as an unfortunate side effect. Most employees leaving the company are in marketing, international production, and post-production.

The layoffs come amidst the Writers Guild of America strike, which has already made work scarce in Hollywood. Hollywood’s stages will grow even quieter if the Screen Actors Guild joins the WGA.

The Amblin staff will join thousands of unemployed entertainment industry workers who are hoping for a quick resolution to the dispute between Hollywood’s unions and its biggest studios.

The Fabelmans

Universal released the last Steven Spielberg film, The Fabelmans, in the fall of 2022 to great critical acclaim. Spielberg is now working on a film based on actor Steve McQueen’s character Frank Bullitt. Bradley Cooper is attached to portray the deadly serious San Francisco cop in Spielberg’s reimagining.

Steven Spielberg’s partnership with Universal is going further, but that led to Amblin Partners lay-offs in redudant positions.

Steven Spielberg is also working on a seven-part miniseries for HBO chronicling the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. The project is Spielberg’s attempt to complete one of the lost projects of director Stanley Kubrick. The series will have to compete with Napoleon, Ridley Scott’s biopic starring Joaquin Phoenix, scheduled to hit theaters this November.

Amblin is about more than Steven Spielberg these days. The legendary director handed over the Indiana Jones franchise to director James Mangold for this summer’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

A collaboration between Disney/Lucasfilm and Paramount, The Dial of Destiny has struggled to strike gold at the box office. It struggled to reach the $250 million mark, likely not even recovering the film’s pre-marketing cost.

Fans and critics agreed that the film lacked the spark of its predecessors; whether that spark came from Harrison Ford’s youth or the direction of Steven Spielberg will likely be debated on podcasts and YouTube channels for years to come.

Last Voyage of the Demeter

Amblin will release the Dracula thriller The Last Voyage of the Demeter this August through Universal Studios. In its new deal with Universal, Amblin will bring to life Maggie O’Farrell’s novel Hamnet under the direction of The Eternals helmer Chloe Zhao and the upcoming Rob Hart novel Assassins Anonymous.

Steven Spielberg, even if he’s not directing, is active behind the scenes helping films get to theaters, including the upcoming The Last Voyage of the Demeter.

Trying economic conditions continue to plague Hollywood. The layoffs at Amblin make for the latest headline in a sea of box office disappointments, lost jobs, and labor union disputes.

A new generation of filmmakers stands in the shadow of directors like Steven Spielberg, who has several classics and box office records to his name.

Even high-profile fare has an uphill battle to fight in the post-COVID era. That won’t stop Tom Cruise and Christopher Nolan from trying to save the film industry.

After all, if Steven Spielberg can’t do it, someone has to try.