Disney set to slash output, staff

Even as it basks in the box office glory of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” Disney is using the opportunity to tighten its belt.

The Mouse House will announce within the next 10 days that it’s cutting back on the number of films it makes to around eight per year — it currently releases around 18 — and will substantially reduce its workforce. All movies will be Disney-branded, meaning companies like Touchstone could be vastly diminished.

The cutbacks will be far greater than many anticipated, as Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook looks to reinvent the architecture of his studio. Move reflects an effort to improve the studio’s return on investment and get infrastructure back into line.

While Disney’s having a grand summer with “Pirates” and with Pixar’s “Cars,” this year has seen some major misfires: “Stick It,” “Annapolis,” “Stay Alive” and especially “The Wild.”

So while the general population wonders how a studio can claim “money problems” after a record-breaking opening — “Pirates” took in a whopping $135 million in its first weekend, and business is brisk even midweek as it heads into another huge weekend — the move re-emphasizes the fact that studios are looking to cut costs amid increasing overhead, production budgets and marketing bills.

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