Monday, August 11, 2014

Word of Layoffs

... circulates to the trade press.

Things are getting leaner at the House of Mouse once again. This time it’s DisneyToon Studios that is handing out pink slips. About 17 of the 60 full-time employees at the primarily direct-to-video animation group have been laid off, with some occurring last week and the rest to leave during the next month. ...

Disney has been cutting staff in various divisions including Disney Interactive, LucasArts and Walt Disney Studios during the past 18 months and this was a part of that cost-cutting strategy. Third, sources say that the drawing was on the wall at DTS with the underwhelming box office performance of Planes: Fire & Rescue, which has made slightly more than $90 million worldwide since its July 18 release. ...

I brought this up last week here on the blog, so the news is out there.

Animation has always risen and fallen like a careening roller coaster: The theatrical shorts market dried up in the fifties, then the television cartoon was born in a big way with Hanna-Barbera, and unemployed Disney and M-G-M artists scampered to Bill and Joe's place.

In the nineties, when the home video market rocketed upward, DisneyToon Studios was spun off from Disney Television Animation and became a big profit driver for the Mouse. Every young family across the fruited plain bought VHS tapes and then little silver disks to entertain the small fry. But in 2014, disks aren't what they used to be (and then there's Amazon giving Disney a tiny bit of grief about selling same), so here we are, diving down the next twist of the 'coaster.

Disney Feature is now using the Disney Toon Studio in Glendale as an overflow basin, since the hat building in Burbank is stuffed to the gills. But that will end in a month or so, because Big Hero 6 will be wrapping up and all those extra lighters/surfacers/animators that Walt Disney Animation Studios has been hiring to get the feature through its seven-month production schedule will be out of jobs.

Did I say animation was a business than went up AND down?


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