Solstice Studios Lays Off Top Executives, Future Looks Dim as Indie Shop Completes Ben Affleck’s ‘Hypnotic’

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Upstart production and distribution company Solstice Studios has pink-slipped the majority of its executive leadership and looks on the verge of closure as it completes a new film starring Ben Affleck, insiders tell Variety.

On Monday morning, major players including CEO Mark Gill, production head Lisa Ellzey and production co-head Guy Botham, marketing head Vincent Bruzzese, distribution chief Shari Hardison, and international sales chief Crystal Bourbeau were all dismissed. Founded in 2018, the studio is mid-shoot on the thriller “Hypnotic,” from Affleck and director Robert Rodriguez.

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Ten employees remain. Insiders close to the company blamed the financial challenges of the pandemic for the sudden departures.

“Solstice is not closing. It is being streamlined and will focus entirely on getting ‘Hypnotic’ produced and released. To that end, there will still be 10 people working at the company going forward. ‘Hypnotic’ is fully funded and in production now. Principal photography is scheduled to be completed November 19. Post-production is set for completion on July 15, 2022,” a statement from Solstice read.

The studio says it is still targeting a wide domestic theatrical release in the fall of 2022, on a minimum of 2,000 screens. “Hypnotic” follows a detective investigating a mystery involving his missing daughter and a secret government program. It co-stars Alice Braga and William Fichtner.

“The U.S. release will either be handled by a team purpose-built by Solstice for this picture — or by a third-party U.S. distributor. Solstice is targeting a concurrent international theatrical release of the movie to be handled by independent distributors in territories all around the world who have pre-bought the movie,” the statement concluded.

Solstice arrived as an ambitious multi-purpose company — boasting financing, production services, sales and distribution. They made waves by charting the first wide release of the COVID-19 with Russell Crowe’s “Unhinged.” This May, Solstice offloaded the Mark Wahlberg film “Joe Bell” to Roadside Attractions after initially acquiring the project out of the Toronto Film Festival.

News of the layoffs was first reported by Deadline.

Brent A. Lang contributed to this report.

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