DreamWorks Animation begins layoffs, number unknown

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

DreamWorks Animation Is Said to Plan Several Hundred Job Cuts.

DreamWorks Animation has begun a fresh round of staff layoffs, according to reports in Los Angeles Times, which have been confirmed by other outlets. DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. (DWA) plans to cut several hundred jobs, according to a person familiar with the situation, as the “How to Train Your Dragon” studio seeks to rekindle its slumping movie-making operation.

The troubled entertainment studio, which has been hit with a string of box-office disappointments, began letting go workers last week, said Steve Hulett, a business representative at the local Animation Guild who was contacted by laid-off animators and development artists. As many as 400 employees at the company’s facilities in Glendale and Redwood City could be affected by the cuts, which are already underway, according to Variety. Peabody & Sherman” and “Turbo.” Its November release, “Penguins of Madagascar,” has also missed expectations and led analysts to predict another write-down.

The top-performing films of the past three years were spin-offs or sequels to previous films (Madgascar, Shrek and Kung Fu Panda), with new works Turbo, Rise of the Guardians and Mr Peabody and Sherman underperforming and leading to nearly $160m of writedowns (a reduction in the company’s book value). The company’s most recent film Penguins of Madagascar, released in November, made $287m at the box office over the past two months – down on the previous film in the series Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, which posted $747m. And not one film of the last decade has topped the company’s best-performing film, Shrek 2 ($920m), with the 2007 instalment of the film franchise Shrek the Third ($799m) and 2010’s Shrek Forever After ($753m) coming in at second and third position. Recent attempts by DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg to sell the company to Japanese telecommunications giant Softbank and American toy company Hasbro failed, and stock prices are down nearly 50% compared to five years ago.

Katzenberg replaced the studio’s creative leadership this month, appointing veteran producers Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria as co-presidents of feature animation. An editorial by senior editor Marc Graser in Variety wrote at the time of the failed sale attempts, “with each miss, the executive appears to look more desperate” and implied that the company co-founder’s style of micro-management had impacted the deals. It will be around for a long time.” Founded in 1994, the animation studio was formerly a joint venture by DreamWorks and Pacific Data Images, but has been a separate public company since 2004.

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