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Disney Studios eliminating about 200 jobs

The cuts, coming amid a slump in DVD sales, include an undisclosed number of layoffs and dozens of jobs that have been unfilled, primarily in the studio's home entertainment division in Burbank, said a person familiar with the matter.

June 16, 2011|By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times

Amid a continuing industrywide slump in DVD sales, Walt Disney Studios issued layoff notices on Wednesday as part of a plan to shed about 200 jobs.

The cuts include an undisclosed number of layoffs and dozens of jobs that have been unfilled, primarily in the studio's home entertainment division in Burbank, said a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to comment.

The movie studio behind the current worldwide hit "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," employs about 5,000 people globally.

The layoffs come at a time when studios are grappling with long-term challenges on several fronts, including flat theater attendance. But DVD sales, which for years propped up the movie business, have fallen dramatically. Sales of DVDs, Blu-ray discs and digital movies dropped 18% in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, according to the industry trade organization Digital Entertainment Group.

Disney is not alone in responding to the downturn. Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and independent studio Lionsgate have all recently cut their workforces in their home entertainment units. Paramount Pictures is also expected to cut costs in its home video division, and Sony Pictures laid off 450 people last year.

Over the last two years, Disney has scaled back its film operations, reducing the number of movies it produces and releases and selling its Miramax Films specialty movie label.

Dissatisfied with the studio's performance, Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert A. Iger in 2009 fired former studio chief Dick Cook and replaced him with former Disney Channel executive Rich Ross, who has been reorganizing and streamlining the studio's marketing and distribution operations.

richard.verrier@latimes.com

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