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Netflix Animation Lays Off 30

The streamer continues its animated film business overhaul that began when Karen Toliver and Traci Balthazor took over the animation film production group this past July.

In the wake of an executive shuffle this past July that saw Karen Toliver named VP Animation Film Content and Traci Balthazor named VP Animation Film Production, Netflix Animation is laying off 30 employees, the streamer has confirmed.

The staff cuts are part of the company's ongoing efforts to organize animation film production under the leadership of Balthazor, working closely with Toliver, in a manner more in line with how other major animation studios are setup. July also saw Mike Moon resign as head of adult animation, as well as the streamer’s surprise acquisition of leading independent animation producer Animal Logic. Those came on the heels of the massive DNEG production services deal extension worth at least $350 million the streamer signed this past May.

Also in May, a number of animated projects got the axe, including Ava DuVernay’s Wings of Fire, the preschool program Antiracist Baby, and the children’s film With Kind Regards From Kindergarten. Those cuts were made soon after Meghan Markle’s Pearl was canceled while still in development, as well as Chris Nee’s (Ada TwistDino Daycare and Jaydeep Hasrajani’s action-comedy series Boons and Curses getting shut down in the middle of production.

The moves reportedly are not an indicator of any slowdown or output decrease from the animation group, which continues to push out feature films as part of an aggressive slate of film, TV, and short film projects that has included the Oscar-winning short, If Anything Happens, I Love You, Oscar nominated Robin, Robin, Oscar nominated Klaus, Kris Pearn’s The Willoughbys, Oscar nominated Over the Moon, Back to the Outback, directed by Clare Knight and Harry Cripps, Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood from Richard Linklater, and Oscar-winning director Chris Williams’ recently released The Sea Beast.

That slate also includes several highly anticipated, soon to be released films, including Henry Selick’s Wendell & Wild, Nora Twomey’s My Father’s Dragon, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Wendy Rogers’ The Magician’s Elephant, and an Aardman sequel to Chicken Run.  Netflix’s animated feature dance card has also included recent acquisitions like Oscar-nominated The Mitchells vs. The Machines, Vivo!, SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run, and Wish Dragon.

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.