About 5% of company staffers will be laid off beginning next week
The Mouse House is prepping a stack of pinkslips to hand out sometime next week.Less than 5%, or about 200, of the Walt Disney Studios’ workforce will be affected by the layoffs, with a majority of the jobs involving staffers in distribution, development and post production, while any open positions will also be eliminated. Across town, Lionsgate has also realigned resources and reduced headcount by about 10 slots, primarily in the home entertainment area. The move, which conversely includes hires in its digital division, reflects the ongoing transition of Lionsgate’s packaged media biz to digital platforms and was described as a one-time event, not an ongoing process. Disney’s cuts had been in the works for months and long been timed to occur after the rollout of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” Reasons for that timing were not divulged, but execs, led by Rich Ross, had been tasked with finding ways to streamline their divisions and lower overhead. That comes as a downturn in homevideo revenue is hurting every studio’s bottomline. It also occurs as the live-action division is producing and distributing fewer films, with Ross and Sean Bailey still in the midst of putting their stamp on the types of films the studio will release under their new regime over the next several years — tentpoles that include “Oz, the Great and Powerful,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Magic Kingdom,” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “Jungle Cruise,” “Hovercar” and “Haunted Mansion,” for example. Disney is increasingly turning to Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Marvel and DreamWorks to fill much of its slate. This year, for example, four of the 13 films on Disney’s slate were produced by the studio’s live-action arm. Company will have a lull in its schedule between this summer’s “Cars 2” and Thanksgiving’s return of “The Muppets.” Disney had already been reorganizing distribution to consolidate pics’ rollout across theatrical, homevideo and TV worldwide.