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Layoffs Hit Storied Animation Studio (Exclusive)

Layoffs Hit Storied Animation Studio (Exclusive)

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Today, leadership at the storied company that traces it origins to the late Steve Jobs and was bought by Disney in 2006 will notify employees of the reductions, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. It is the biggest restructuring in Pixar’s history, although top leadership isn’t impacted.

Approximately 14 percent of Pixar’s workforce, or around 175 employees, will be let go. Before the reductions, approximately 1,300 people worked at the animation studio.

The layoffs are part of Disney chief Bob Iger’s overarching mandate to return to a focus on quality, versus churning out content for streaming which was a priority for his sort-lived successor, Bob Chapek. Disney execs have talked about returning to a focus on quality during numerous earnings calls this year, saying creative teams across the company were stretched too thin in the arms race to feed streamers.

Pixar employees have known since January that layoffs were coming. If there’s some solace to be had, it’s that reductions are less than the 20 percent reported in January by some news outlets. Nor is Pixar being singled out. There were layoffs across all of Disney last year but cuts at Pixar were delayed because of production schedules, sources say.

Pixar — led by Pete Docter — will no longer be focusing on direct-to-streaming series, but on its feature films. That excludes Win or Lose, which is set to debut later this year.

The once-invincible animation studio suffered a major setback during the pandemic era when the Chapek regime decided to send Luca, Coco and Turning Red straight to Disney+ even though cinemas had begun to reopen or were in full recovery mode. And then its first post-COVID theatrical release, Lightyear was mostly dismissed by critics and audiences, exposing Pixar to ongoing scrutiny.

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Pixar received good news last year with the release of Elemental, which earned nearly $500 million globally to become the biggest original animated movie since Pixar’s Coco in 2017. It was also a streaming sensation. And theater owners have high hopes for Inside Out 2, which opens June 14 in North America (the trailer was the most watched animated trailer in the company’s history).

Other upcoming films include next year’s Elio and Toy Story 5 in 2026.

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