With rumors swirling since the Pixar purchase, Walt Disney Co., on March 20, 2006, shuttered its Circle 7 unit, which was dedicated to producing sequels to Pixar films.
A company spokesperson said, Due to changes in our animation business, a substantial number of artists and staff from Circle 7 will be moving into Walt Disney Feature Animation. For those artists without a Feature Animation assignment, we will be assisting them in finding new employment.
The L.A. TIMES reports that 32 employees, or almost 20% of the unit, would be losing their jobs effective May 26, 2006. The remaining 136 artists and managers will join such productions as MEET THE ROBINSONS, RAPUNZEL and AMERICAN DOG.
Dubbed "Circle 7" after the Glendale street where the unit resides, the sequels operation was set up last year by former Disney ceo Michael Eisner when tensions were high that Pixar would never renew its deal with the Mouse House. Disney had the right to make Pixar sequels under its previous distribution agreement. However, the move looked to many as a slight issued from Eisner toward Pixar head Steve Jobs.
Though Disney declined to officially comment, Circle 7 chief Andrew Millstein is said to once again take the reins as evp of Walt Disney Feature Animation, following the release of Bob Bacon. Millstein previously ran Disney's now-defunct Florida animation studio.