EXCLUSIVE: eOne’s long-serving President of International Distribution, Stuart Baxter, is leaving ahead of the Yellowjackets and The Rookie studio ahead of its $500M sale to Lionsgate, we can reveal.
The former Warner Bros. and Sony exec will exit his post at the end of the week after more than nine years at the helm of eOne’s London-based international distribution operation. In the role, he oversaw international TV and film international sales efforts across pay-TV, free-TV, SVOD and AVOD windows.
Under Baxter’s leadership, eOne’s international sales unit became one of the largest UK-based operations, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars each year through sales of shows such as The Rookie and The Walking Dead and films including the Twilight franchise. Since becoming part of Hasbro in 2019, it has also sold library titles from the toy firm’s catalog.
We understand up to seven staff from Baxter’s team have recently exited eOne and more are likely to follow upon current eOne owner Hasbro’s closure of the Lionsgate sale.
Lionsgate’s international sales operation is headed up by Jim Packer, who signed a long-term contract with the Hunger Games studio to remain President of Worldwide Television Distribution during Mipcom Cannes last year.
Plans to bring eOne’s sales operation into the Lionsgate fold are already underway, we understand, which will have likely sped up Baxter’s exit. There’s no word on his next move at this stage.
His departure the latest from eOne’s senior team ahead of the deal closing at the end of the year. eOne President of Global Television Michael Lombardo and President of Film and TV Steve Bertram confirmed their departures soon after the agreement was announced, while film chief Nick Meyer left upon expiry of his contract in June.
Lionsgate confirmed it was paying $500M for eOne’s films and TV business early last month, after Deadline had tipped a deal weeks before.
That came amid a tough year for eOne staff, following news in November last year the company was up for sale. We revealed back in July that Hasbro had cut eOne’s UK theatrical operations team, as part of a plan to cut about 1,000 positions to save costs.
Hasbro had acquired the company for $4B in 2019. It is keeping the family division, which houses Peppa Pig and PJ Masks, and recently named one Family chief Olivier Dumont as President of Hasbro Entertainment. Gabriel Marano, who was Co-Head of Scripted Development for eOne, became Head of TV and Zev Foreman, who was President of Film Production for eOne, was named Head of Film.
Hasbro had decided to sell the Canada-headquartered production and distribution giant after refocusing on its core toy brands businesses. eOne’s music business was shopped for $385M to Blackstone in 2021.
Chris Cocks, Hasbro’s CEO, last week called the Lionsgate deal “painful” but “absolutely the right thing to do” with eOne’s TV and brands, which include The Rookie and The Walking Dead (which it sells), never quite meshing with Hasbro’s toy brands such as Hot Wheels and Transformers.
eOne declined to comment.