Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios Eliminates 75 Positions Including Two Executives Behind “Lightyear”

Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios Eliminates 75 Positions Including Two Executives Behind “Lightyear”

Walt Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios has cut 75 positions, including two executives responsible for the underperforming film “Lightyear,” marking the first significant job cuts at the studio in a decade. The layoff, which took place on 23 May, is part of Walt Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger’s plan to eliminate 7,000 jobs and slash $5.5 billion in costs. Although the layoffs were small compared to Pixar’s employee base of about 1,200, they are significant because the studio is a creative force generating franchises and characters that drive revenue across Disney.

The Impact of the Layoffs and “Lightyear”

The layoffs included “Lightyear” director Angus MacLane, a 26-year animator who was part of the senior creative team on such acclaimed films as “Toy Story 4” and “Coco.” Galyn Susman, producer of “Lightyear,” also departed. Susman had been at Pixar since the release of the original “Toy Story” movie in 1995. Michael Agulnek, Pixar’s vice president of worldwide publicity since 2015, was also laid off.

The cuts are notable because Pixar is famous for cinematic franchises including “Toy Story,” “The Incredibles,” and “Cars.” However, “Lightyear,” released a year ago with a reported budget of $200 million, brought in a modest $226.7 million in worldwide ticket sales and received mixed reviews. By contrast, Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” in 2018, which was reported to have had a similar production budget, had worldwide box office sales of $1.2 billion.

Moreover, “Lightyear” could not be shown in 14 Middle Eastern and Asian countries due to its depiction of a same-sex relationship, which had an impact on its box office performance.

The layoffs, which took place across every division, including film and television, streaming services, and theme parks, are part of Disney’s wider cost-cutting efforts. The company acquired Pixar in 2006 to revitalize its struggling Disney Animation.

The last time Pixar cut jobs was in 2013 when the studio postponed the release of the 2015 film “The Good Dinosaur” and removed its director, Bob Peterson. About 30 positions were eliminated.

The recent job cuts at Pixar Animation Studios, including the departure of two executives behind “Lightyear,” highlights the impact of underperforming movies on the studio and its parent company, Walt Disney. While the layoffs are small compared to Pixar’s employee base, they are significant because the studio is a crucial part of Disney’s revenue-generating franchises and characters. The performance of “Lightyear” and the impact of its same-sex relationship on its box office performance demonstrate the challenges and complexities of producing movies that cater to a global audience.

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