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Layoffs Hit ‘Planes’ Producer DisneyToon Studios

Further cost-cutting at the Walt Disney Co. is having an impact on DisneyToon Studios, the producer of “Planes: Fire & Rescue” and straight-to-video features starring Tinker Bell and the rest of the Disney Fairies.

Of the 60 employees on staff at the Glendale, Calif.-based division of Walt Disney Animation Studios, 16 are being affected by the layoffs and started to be told of the reductions last week, individuals close to the situation confirmed to Variety.

Disney has been eliminating positions at most of its divisions as a way to trim overhead since 2013.

However, DisneyToon Studios also has been hit by a declining home entertainment market, which, while showing signs of a rebound on digital platforms, still hasn’t reached the kinds of levels that made animated direct-to-video prequels or sequels based on Tinker Bell, “Cinderella,” “The Lion King,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Bambi” and “Cars” a considerably lucrative business.

The division did recently score with “Planes,” in 2013, when it earned $219 million worldwide ($90 million domestic) after the $50 million feature was released in theaters rather than direct-to-homevideo, as was initially planned.

The sequel, “Fire & Rescue,” has earned $90 million worldwide so far.

DisneyToon studios has produced 47 films overall, starting with “DuckTales: The Movie Treasure of the Lost Lamp,” in 1990.

The Disney Fairies animated film “The Pirate Fairy” sailed onto home entertainment platforms in April, while “Legend of the NeverBeast” bows in the spring of 2015.

Disney declined to comment.

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