Sony Pictures Entertainment taps Disney for veteran GC replacement

Disney’s deputy GC Jill Ratner will succeed Leah Weil, who is leaving Sony after nearly three decades

A water tower at Sony Pictures in Culver City Jerome Kundrotas /

US media and entertainment giant Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has hired Jill Ratner as general counsel, replacing veteran GC Leah Weil, who announced her departure in January.

Ratner joins from The Walt Disney Company, where she was deputy GC. At Sony, she will be responsible for all of the studio’s legal functions, including compliance, labour relations, government relations, corporate social responsibility and its music affairs team. She brings with her expertise in copyright, trademark and contract disputes, as well as matters relating to antitrust, securities and class actions.

Culver City, California-based SPE owns studio and entertainment brands including Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures, as well as movie franchises such as Ghostbusters and Spider-Man.

Ratner is due to take up the role at the end of May and will report directly to SPE’s chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra.

Vinciquerra said: “Jill has a well-earned reputation as a trusted, results-driven advisor and legal strategist, and we are thrilled to have her join SPE as general counsel. Having successfully led large legal teams at two of Hollywood’s biggest studio businesses during times of extraordinary change and transition, Jill is extremely well-suited for this role. 

He added: “We look forward to having her wise counsel and advice to help us meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving industry landscape and to capitalise on opportunities for growth.”

Ratner spent just over five years at Disney, having previously been deputy GC at 21st Century Fox, where she spent close to 15 years, including as executive vice president for litigation and other roles. Prior to her in-house career, Ratner spent four years as a litigation associate at legacy firm Hogan and Hartson and three years at defunct firm Troop Steuber Pasich Reddick.

Ratner said: “Sony Pictures has shown remarkable strength and resiliency at a time of tremendous change in our industry. I look forward to joining this exceptional leadership team and working alongside the outstanding groups Leah Weil has built at SPE.”

Weil, meantime, exits after 28 years with the company, which included overseeing its deal with Marvel for the rights to Spider-Man.

In a note to staff in January, she said: “I am truly lucky to be able to say that I struggled with this decision. While there has never really been a ‘good’ time to leave it does feel like the right time in my life to make this transition. I will deeply miss being an active part of the community we have built, but I am excited about the future and having the time to turn my attention back to things and relationships that have so often been pushed aside while I have been focused on the press of work.”

In other recent in-house entertainment moves, Canadian kids TV group WildBrain last week hired former Entertainment One GC Mark Trachuk, while in February former CBS Corporation GC Laura Franco joined Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSGE) and Sphere Entertainment.

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