Pixar Animation Studios, a Walt Disney Company subsidiary, recently shocked the industry by axing 75 jobs, including those of two executives who oversaw the production of the critically panned but commercially unsuccessful Lightyear. This is Pixar’s first major round of layoffs in a decade, signaling a new direction for the studio.
Angus MacLane, director of Lightyear, has left the company. MacLane is a seasoned animator who has contributed to critically acclaimed films like Toy Story 4 and Coco. Lightyear’s producer, Galyn Susman, also quit. These adjustments are part of Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger’s larger effort to reduce expenses and staff levels across the board.
Angus MacLane and Galyn Susman Leave Pixar
Among the notable people let go by Pixar was animator Angus MacLane, who had been there for a whopping 26 years. Because of his work on critically acclaimed films like Toy Story 4 and Coco, MacLane’s departure has surprised many in the film industry.
Angus MacLane’s contributions to recent Pixar hits’ story and visual style have been widely praised for their excellence. The producer of Lightyear, Galyn Susman, has also left Pixar. Since joining Pixar in 1995, shortly after the release of the first Toy Story film, Susman has been an integral part of creating a wide variety of successful films.
Her departure is a sad chapter in the studio’s history because she was instrumental in its rise to prominence and the development of its signature storytelling brand. Fans and industry insiders wonder what is next for Angus MacLane and Susman and how their absence might affect future Pixar projects. Neither parties, not their representatives, could be reached for comment.
As part of Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger’s larger restructuring plan, positions will be eliminated at Pixar. To streamline operations and cut costs, the film and television divisions have been combined into a single Disney Entertainment unit as part of this strategy.
Although the number of layoffs is small compared to Pixar’s total workforce of around 1,200, the company’s status as a creative powerhouse makes them notable. The studio’s success in creating franchises and iconic characters has boosted Disney’s bottom line across all its distribution channels.
Universal Effects of Disney’s Staff Reductions
The failure of Lightyear, the prequel to the wildly successful Toy Story series at the box office, contributed to the layoffs at Pixar. The film reportedly cost $200 million to produce but was only able to earn back $226.7 million worldwide.
In contrast, Pixar’s Incredibles 2, also released in 2018 and having a similar budget, was a massive financial success, grossing over $1.2 billion worldwide. Several things contributed to Lightyear’s poor box office performance.
First, the film’s potential earnings were diminished because it was banned from screening in 14 countries in the Middle East and Asia due to its depiction of a same-sex relationship. Critics were also divided on the film, and audiences weren’t as enthusiastic as they had been for other Pixar movies.
With each new release, living up to the studio’s reputation for captivating storytelling and compelling characters becomes more difficult. Disney’s plan to reduce staff doesn’t just affect Pixar. The company has reduced staff in many departments, including the movie and television division, the streaming service, and the amusement park division.
To streamline operations and adjust to the changing entertainment landscape, Disney CEO Bob Iger has announced a plan to eliminate 7,000 jobs and reduce costs by $5.5 billion. Prior layoffs at Pixar happened in 2013 after the delay of The Good Dinosaur led to the dismissal of the film’s director. During that time, about 30 positions were cut.
Regardless of the layoffs, Pixar’s track record of successful franchises and memorable characters bodes well for a comeback. Pixar’s priority has always been telling stories that appeal to a wide variety of people worldwide, and that won’t change any time soon.