Walt Disney Feature Animation has officially closed its animation unit in Orlando, Florida that was responsible for BROTHER BEAR ($83.6M), LILO & STITCH ($146M) and MULAN ($121M) as a cost-cutting measure. In November, Disney cancelled production of A FEW GOOD GHOSTS, leaving little doubt about the fate of its 258 employees based in Florida.
The move completes the reorganization of Feature Animation as it transitions to an all-3D pipeline. All Disney animation creative and production activities will be housed solely at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, where there are 600 employees and where production is currently under way on CHICKEN LITTLE, due in theaters in 2005. At the same time, Disney announced that it would commence production in June on the feature A DAY WITH WILBUR ROBINSON, based on the best-selling William Joyce book, author of ROLIE POLIE OLIE, which is currently a Disney Channel series.
"This difficult decision was based on what is best strategically for our business in both the short and long term," said Disney Feature Animation president David Stainton in a prepared statement. " Having the entire animation group working together in Burbank under one roof will further enhance our filmmaking process."
Disney officials were unsure how many Orlando workers would be transferred to Burbank.