January 20-2015
DreamWorks Animation commences layoffs; nearly 350 job cuts expected

Looks like the Golden Globe win and a chance at pulling off a double whammy at the Oscars this year for the studio’s How To Train Your Dragon 2 has still not managed to keep DreamWorks Animation from continuing to bleed and look for ways to keep functioning effectively.

According to reports confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter, DreamWorks Animation is set to layoff nearly 350 people or more starting from the end of the month. The company has approximately 1,950 employees and the cuts are expected to hit production staff, including storyboard artists and animators.

The layoffs come in the middle of poor financial performance and a restructuring. In the first three quarters of 2014, the company posted a 10 per cent decline in revenue to $450.4 million and a net loss of $46.4 million as against a profit of $37.9 million a year ago.

Just last year, the studio behind Tentpole properties like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda had (for the first time in its existence) laid-off 350 employees and CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg had mentioned that laying off folks was the hardest thing he has had to do since starting at DreamWorks.

The studio recently injected some much needed energy in its leadership, with Bill Damaschke leaving his post as chief creative officer and Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria installed as co-presidents of feature animation. The two are taking a close look at the types of films with which the studio will move forward, reducing production budgets and other overhead at the company. That’s after DWA took a $87 million loss on Rise of the Guardians, and a hit of $13.5 million on Turbo along with a $57 million writedown on Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

The layoffs also follow after negotiations to sell the studio did not yield results. Katzenberg had merger discussions with Japanese telecommunications firm SoftBank, toymaker Hasbro and conglomerate 21st Century Fox earlier last year.

“Three of our last four films have not delivered in terms of audience turnout or financial performance,” Katzenberg told analysts in April 2014, before The Penguins of Madagascar also underperformed in the latter part of the year, with nearly $271 million worldwide, $78 million coming from domestic theaters.

The company has one film in theaters this year – Home – which Fox will release for DWA in March.

Both Kung Fu Panda 3 and B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations have been moved out of 2015, with the latter not yet landing on a new release date.

The third Panda installment will now join Trolls in 2016, with Boss Baby, Mumbai Musical, sequels to Puss in Boots, The Croods and a third How to Train Your Dragon also waiting in the wings for take-off.