Walt Disney's Pixar Animation Studios has eliminated 75 positions including those of two executives behind box office disappointment Lightyear, sources said on Saturday (June 3), the first significant job cuts at the studio in a decade.
The cuts included Lightyear director Angus MacLane, a 26-year animator who was part of the senior creative team on such acclaimed films as Toy Story 4 and Coco. Galyn Susman, producer of Lightyear, also departed. Susman had been at Pixar since the release of the original Toy Story movie in 1995.
MacLane and Susman could not be reached for comment. Michael Agulnek, Pixar's vice president of worldwide publicity since 2015, was also laid off, the sources said. He did not return a call seeking comment.
The cuts, which took place May 23, are part of Walt Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger’s previously announced plan to eliminate 7,000 jobs and slash US$5.5 billion (S$7.5 billion) in costs. That restructuring combined the film and television groups into a single Disney Entertainment unit and eliminated a division charged with distribution.
While small compared to Pixar's employee base of about 1,200, the layoffs are notable because the studio is a creative force generating franchises and characters that drive revenue across Disney.
Pixar is famous for cinematic franchises including Toy Story, The Incredibles and Cars. But Lightyear, released a year ago with a reported budget of US$200 million, brought in a modest US$226.7 million in worldwide ticket sales and received a mixed critical reception.
By contrast, Pixar's Incredibles 2 in 2018, which was reported to have had a similar production budget, had worldwide box office sales of US$1.2 billion.
Lightyear could not be shown in 14 Middle Eastern and Asian countries because of its depiction of a same-sex relationship. This had an impact on its box office performance.
Disney has implemented layoffs in every division including film and television, streaming services and theme parks.
The last time Pixar cut jobs was in 2013, after the studio postponed the release of the 2015 film The Good Dinosaur, and removed its director, Bob Peterson. About 30 positions were eliminated.
Disney acquired Pixar in 2006 to revitalize its struggling Disney Animation.