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Pixar Cuts 14% Of Its Employees

The entertainment industry has had a rough few years. The after effects of the pandemic and changing consumer habits have led to many media companies posting pretty big losses. This perhaps inevitably has led to job cuts across the board. Earlier this year this hit the video game industry. And now the dreaded spectre of lay-offs has arrived at Pixar.

The news had been anticipated for a while, as Disney had already cut staff across the company last year. Pixar staff were temporarily spared due to their production cycle. This could only last so long, however, and this week the news they have been dreading has arrived.

The company is letting go 14% of its workforce- approximately 175 employees out of the 13,000 who work at the Emeryville studio. The move is part of Disney boss Bob Iger's cost-cuting measures across the wider company. Upper management is not affected but many long-term employees have been let go. The official line behind the move is that the studio is moving away from making original content for Disney+ and refocusing on features for theatrical release. 

This seems a bit disingenuous, as the features Soul, Luca and Turning Red were intended as theatrical releases and it was only Disney executives that chose to switch them to streaming releases. The only series they have made are Dug Days, Cars On The Road and Win Or Lose, the latter of which is not even out yet. It does feel like it's just an excuse for what in reality is purely a money-saving exercise. It seems a bit unfair on Win Or Lose too, as this would seem to suggest that it most likely won't get the chance to make it past its debut season.

Pixar will release Inside Out 2 on June 14, and Elio and Toy Story 5 in 2025. Win Or Lose doesn't yet have a release date but is expected in 2024.

The email sent by Pixar president Jim Morris follows:

Hello everyone. 

I have spoken to you many times over the last year about our pending move away from series production for Disney+, the return to our focus on feature films, and the reduction in our team that would accompany that. That day is here, and while it is not coming as a surprise to anyone, it is one of the hardest changes we’ve had to make, as it means we will be parting with a number of talented and dedicated colleagues and friends.

Today, leaders will begin the process of notifying employees whose positions are being impacted. Calendar invites to speak with a leader have already gone out to those individuals, and we anticipate we will have connected with everyone impacted by the end of the day. 

I want to assure you that will be providing extensive support as our colleagues start to transition out of the studio. We are committed to ensuring that their departure is handled with the utmost respect and care at every stage. This is important to me, and I understand how important this is to all of us in the Pixar community. I will host a brief Studio Meeting via Zoom this afternoon at 5:00 to talk more about today’s announcement.

Despite the challenges in our industry over the past few years, you have all consistently shown up to contribute, collaborate, innovate, lead, and do great work at this studio. I give you my deepest thanks, and for those who will be leaving us, I am hopeful that our paths will cross again, both professionally and personally.

Our thoughts are with everybody affected.