Layoffs Coming to DreamWorks Animation?

An unspecified reduction in staff is planned in the wake of an expected write-down on the November release "Rise of the Guardians."

DWA

In the wake of the weaker-than-expected performance of Rise of the Guardians, and its announcement that the studio will release two films in 2013 rather than three, DreamWorks Animation may have plans to lay off staff.

According to reports from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline, among other outlets, the layoffs are expected to hit the Glendale-based animation studio's production, technology and overhead functions. No single film project in development will be targeted, though DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said in a statement that the Kate Hudson-Josh Gad-voiced Me & My Shadow, which had been slated for release by Fox in March 2014, is being taken off the schedule indefinitely. Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which was set for a November 1 release, now shifts to the March 7, 2014, slot. 

"The move of Mr. Peabody & Sherman means that we will now release two films in 2013, and we are adjusting our operating infrastructure costs accordingly," Katzenberg said.

Plans for an unspecified reduction of the company's 2,000 or so employees are reportedly already afoot, and should begin before the publicly traded studio reports earnings February 26.

Rise of the Guardians, released in the U.S. in November, grossed nearly $300 million worldwide in theaters but was considered a box-office disappointment due to its high production and marketing costs. Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett predicted in January that the studio will be forced to write down as much as $96 million in Guardians losses. DWA stock consequently has fallen.

In August, DWA entered a five-year distribution deal with Fox, which will release its films globally beginning with The Croods on March 22. Turbo will follow on July 19, followed by Mr. Peabody & Sherman on March 7, 2014, How to Train Your Dragon 2 on June 20, 2014, and Happy Smekday! on November 26, 2014.

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