STX Entertainment President Sophie Watts has unexpectedly resigned from her job at the Burbank-based start-up studio, the company said in a statement Tuesday.
The company, best known for the "Bad Moms" film franchise, did not say why Watts was leaving, other than to "focus on new business opportunities." Watts will continue to serve as a strategic advisor, the studio said.
She could not be reached for comment.
STX was founded by movie producer Robert Simonds and TPG managing partner Bill McGlashan in 2014 with hefty funding from Silicon Valley and China.
Although the studio has had a mixed track record at the box office, Watts' departure was unexpected. She was seen by studio insiders as Simonds' right-hand person and sounding board.
One person close to the company who was not authorized to comment said relations between the two executives had deteriorated. Watts had been planning for several months to leave and start another company with backing from STX, but those plans fell through after she and Simonds clashed in a recent meeting, the person said.
Simonds praised Watts as "a force of nature," in a statement. They had been working together on the idea for STX since 2011.
"She is an incredibly talented, versatile executive who has been central to every aspect of growing the company, both domestically and internationally," he said.
In a memo to the staff, Watts did not say what she planned to do next but thanked colleagues for their work building the studio.
"I resign from the company more confident than ever about the future that lies ahead for STX," she said in her memo.
Divisions previously reporting to Watts will now report directly to Simonds or STX Chief Operating Officer Thomas McGrath, the company said. Watts recently oversaw STX businesses including digital media and virtual reality.
Media mogul John Malone's Liberty Global acquired a minority stake in STX late last year. Other key investors include Chinese technology giant Tencent, Hong Kong telecom firm PCCW, TPG Growth, China's Hony Capital, producer Gigi Pritzker and East West Bank Chairman Dominic Ng.
5:15 p.m.: This article was updated to include a staff memo from Watts.