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Digital Domain axes staffers

Sources confirmed Thursday that Venice production house Digital Domain laid off most employees from its interactive division. Employees learned of the staff reductions at a Wednesday night meeting.

Digital Domain execs were unavailable to comment on the layoffs Thursday, but sources said all but one interactive projects have been canceled, with just staffers from that job remaining. Sources estimated the number of slashed jobs to be between 20 and 40.

The cuts come as Mattel’s “Barbie Fashion Designer” CD-ROM, developed by Digital Domain, is among the industry’s bestsellers.

Digital Domain launched its multimedia unit in April 1995. The unit had ambitious plans, including the release of three vidgame titles by Christmas 1996, but those plans were stalled, largely due to numerous difficulties inherent in the multimedia business.

“Entertainment companies don’t know how to be in that end of the business,” an industry observer said. “They expect it to be just like the film business and they try to run it that way, but it’s not like film.”

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