Seventy-five employees laid off and productions shut down, effective immediately, as Disney closes down the Glendale production facility.
Disney’s Disneytoon Studios, the Glendale-based Planes franchise home, is shutting down, effective immediately. As reported by Indiewire, a Disney spokesperson said, “After much consideration, we have made the decision to end production activity and close Disneytoon Studios.” 75 animators and other studio staff will be laid off, though no word was given if they will transition to either Disney or Pixar.
At last July’s D23 Expo, John Lasseter himself announced Disneytoon Studios’ next feature, “Untitled DTS Film,” directed by Klay Hall and Bobs Gannaway, with an April 12, 2019 theatrical release date. According to today’s report, the Planes spin-off is no longer in development.
Since Lasseter announced last November 21st that he was taking a six-month sabbatical in the face of sexual misconduct charges leveled by staff at both Disney and Pixar, studio executives have been navigating through a potential minefield, carefully gauging industry opinion and weighing potential executive management changes in the midst of releasing what ended up being two of its most successful animated films to date: Coco last November and Incredibles 2 earlier this month.
With the June 9th report Lasseter would not be returning, followed by the June 19th appointment of Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter to replace him as chief creative officers at Disney and Pixar, respectively, it appeared the tumult at the studios might be over. In light of the Department of Justice’s approval this week of Disney’s acquisition of a major chunk of 21st Century Fox Studios’ assets, which include Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios, and today’s Disneytoon Studios shuttering, the future of animation at the studio Mickey Mouse built seems anything but settled.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.