After producing an ambitious slate of direct-to-video movies, The Walt Disney Co. has decided to close its animation studio in Sydney, Australia and notified its 250 employees there this will take effect next year.
The official statement reads, It is with regret that DisneyToon Studios has decided to close their animation production facility in Sydney in mid-2006 following the completion of BAMBI II, BROTHER BEAR 2 AND CINDERELLA III. The many gifted and talented artists on the Australian team have made a tremendous contribution to Disneys animation endeavors producing such wonderful films as LION KING II: SIMBAS PRIDE, LADY AND THE TRAMP II: SCAMPS ADVENTURE, RETURN TO NEVERLAND, JUNGLE BOOK II, among others.
This closure is a business decision due in large part to the changing creative climate and economic environment in which DisneyToon Studios requires more flexibility to choose the most appropriate and efficient animation process.
The employees will receive a generous package of benefits and entitlements above any statutory obligations in recognition of their many years of contribution, and Disney will provide assistance for each individual employee with re-employment and outplacement services.
This follows a series of closings over the past few years in Orlando, Tokyo and Canada, while the company has been exploring setting up new facilities in such areas of the world as India. The Australian studio had originally been set up as Hanna-Barberas overseas production facility where it produced animated TV series and specials in the late seventies through the nineties.