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Layoffs Under Way at Disney

Studio first to be impacted as Disney plans a corporate reorganization later this year

Disney has begun laying off around 150 staffers at Walt Disney Studios. Employees began receiving pinkslips Wednesday morning.

Individuals working in home entertainment, production, distribution and marketing, as well as the company’s music and theater business in New York City are feeling the brunt of the impact, with only a small number of employees leaving the animation division.

The layoffs represent less than 5% of the studio’s workforce across the Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Disney Theatrical Prods. (which includes Broadway, touring stage and ice shows) and music divisions.

See Also: Disney Employees Brace for Planned Reorg (EXCLUSIVE)

“As part of an ongoing review to ensure that the studios’ operational structure and economics align with the demands of the current marketplace, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our staffing levels in several divisions of the studio,” a spokesman said early Wednesday.

Variety first reported of Disney’s planned layoffs last week.

The layoffs come as the studio will rely more heavily on films that come from its Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm banners, as well as DreamWorks to fill its distribution pipeline. Disney brass also recently concluded a company wide review that tasked each division with ensuring that staff levels are in line with the company’s needs in a changing marketplace, particularly in divisions affected by shifts in new media and digital distribution platforms.

UPDATE: ESPN Layoffs – Cutting Roughly 400 Jobs

The internal audit was ordered late last year by Disney chief executive Bob Iger and chief financial officer Jay Rasulo to identify areas of redundancy and departments that need revamping amid changing business models.

The cutbacks came shortly after Lucasfilm slashed staff numbers at its LucasArts gaming division last week from around 200 to just a handful as it gets out of the business of producing “Star Wars” and other games. It will now license them to third-party developers instead.

See Also: LucasArts Lays Off Staff, Halts Videogame Production

Many at the studio had expected cuts to take place before the release of Disney’s second quarter earnings on May 7. Top execs have emphasized that the reorg is aimed at better positioning the Mouse House for future growth.

Buoyed by active trading on Wall Street Wednesday, Disney’s stock was already up $0.69 to $59.83 as the layoffs were under way.

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