Much to everyone's surprise, Pixar has conducted a rare layoff of its employees. But, what's more shocking is that among those affected by the job cuts are two of the company's executives that worked on the box office disaster, one of which has arguably the most epic story in animation history.
According to Reuters' sources, Lightyear director Angus MacLane and producer Galyn Susman were among the 75 employees let go by the famed animation studio. MacLane, a 26-year veteran, was part of the senior creative team for Toy Story 4 and Coco. He co-directed Finding Dory before making his solo directorial debut with Lightyear.
Susman has been with the company since it released the first Toy Story movie in 1995. She has one of the most legendary stories in the history of Pixar. During the development of Toy Story 2, an animator accidentally wiped the server for the movie, deleting almost all of the work. Luckily for the team, Susman was working from home as she was taking care of her newborn child. It was her backup copy that saved the movie.
Michael Agulnek, Pixar’s vice president of worldwide publicity since 2015 has also been let go as a part of the layoffs. The executives could not be reached for a comment on the job cuts.
The layoffs happened last May 23 and are part of Disney CEO Bob Iger’s plan to let go of 7,000 jobs and reduce company expenditure by $5.5 billion. Disney has restructured the organization and combined the film and television units into a single entity called Disney Entertainment. The company has removed its distribution division as part of the restructuring process.
Letting go of 75 employees isn’t significant when comparing it to Pixar’s 1,200-employee base. However, it is noteworthy because of the executives that were included in the job cuts. Pixar is also one of the biggest income-generating divisions in Disney with movies like Incredibles 2 earning around $1.2 billion at the box office.
Lightyear was released just last year and became a box-office bomb. The animated movie earned just $226.4 million against a budget of $200 million. The studio reportedly lost an estimated $106 million from the project.
The animated film was not shown in 14 countries in the Middle East and Asia because it depicts same-sex relationships. This may have had a huge impact on the box office performance of the movie.
This is the first layoff since 2013 when Pixar let go of 60 employees following the postponement of the release of The Good Dinosaur. The animation studio is not the only part of Disney that has gotten layoffs as every division in the company including film and television, streaming services, and theme parks are part of the restructuring.
Pixar was founded by Steve Jobs after spinning off from Lucasfilm in 1986. Disney bought the animation studio in 2006 for a hefty sum of $7.4 billion to revitalize its struggling animation division.