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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Disney closes unit working on Pixar sequels, axes 32

The LA Times reports that Disney is closing down its Circle 7 animation studio, which was working on Pixar sequels such as `Toy Story 3.' The group was set up by Michael Eisner to prepare for a scenario where the Disney-Pixar partnership dissolved. (Disney held rights to make sequels of Pixar movies.) Claudia Eller of the Times says that rivals derisively called the unit "Pixaren't." Pixar always worried that the quality of product churned out by Circle 7 would affect their reputation. Eller writes:

    Thirty-two employees, or nearly 20% of the 168 artists, production managers and support staff, were told they would lose their jobs effective May 26.

    The remaining 136 will be absorbed into Disney's feature animation division and redeployed to work on such productions as "Meet the Robinsons," "Rapunzel" and "American Dog."

    ...Workers should find themselves in demand, with computer animation enjoying a boom. Studios such as DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures are poised to release a slew of digitally animated movies this year.