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Disney Layoffs Continue as Key Production, VFX Executives Are Let Go (EXCLUSIVE)

Fox Studios Lot
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/REX/S

The Walt Disney Company has enacted another round of layoffs on Wednesday. Several dozen employees at the studio and at 20th Century Fox have been let go, according to insiders. The cuts bring the total number of film staffers laid off to roughly 250 people since Disney completed its $71.3 billion acquisition of much of 21st Century Fox.

While several analysts predicted thousands would be eliminated in the acquisition, only those 250 have exited so far.

Several key executives received pink slips on Tuesday as part of a wave of cuts that impacted primarily staff in the production and visual effects departments. On the Fox side, they include head of visual effects John Kilkenny, executive VP of feature production Fred Baron, executive VP of physical production Dana Belcastro and executive VP of post-production Fred Chandler. Prior to Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox’s film and TV assets in March, those roles reported to Emma Watts, the current vice chairman and president of production at Fox film. Last week, reports broke that Watts was finalizing a new contract that would see her remaining on board at Disney.

In addition to the layoffs, Disney told staffers that it will shut the Fox Research Library on or before Jan. 6, 2020. It will fold the library’s contents into its own archives. The teams at the Walt Disney Archives (founded 1970) and the Imagineering Research Library will be evaluating and handling the collection. It’s unclear if the library’s archivists will be let go.

The Fox Research Library has served as a resource for filmmakers and academics. It boasts a valuable collection of 19th century books, British newspapers, 1920s fashion magazines and a vast collection of materials on World War II. The collection has served as a resource in the making of classics like “The King and I,” “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Titanic.” One individual familiar with the library said the procedural hit “House” used the library to find information about the diseases featured on the medical show.

Disney has enacted three previous rounds of layoffs, which have primarily impacted Fox staffers. Severance packages have been generous. Some of the employees who are being pink-slipped will receive between a year and two years of salary.