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PDI/DreamWorks Studio to Shutdown – 500 Jobs Eliminated

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DreamWorks Animation just announced in a written statement that it will eliminate approximately 500 jobs. Many of those layoffs will come from the unexpected shutdown of one of its main studios, PDI DreamWorks, in Redwood City, California. The closing of that studio will begin immediately. The studio is offering some laid off employees an opportunity to relocate to the southern DreamWorks campus in Glendale, California.
The layoffs at PDI and Glendale will be structured as “equal force reductions,” according to a report by the Animation Guild. That’s possible because of the PDI artists who are being offered the opportunity to relocate. Any artist who leaves the studio will be paid an additional sixty days of wages after the layoff.
The studio is cutting back its slate to two DreamWorks-produced films per year: one original film and one sequel. To save money, the studio will also begin outsourcing production – to Canada – for some of its films, like, Captain Underpants, scheduled for 2017.
Outsourced films will be produced “at a significantly lower cost.”
DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg told financial analysts this afternoon that the studio’s attempt to make three films a year was “too ambitious.” Katzenberg says:

“Much of my time has been focused on expanding the company. It’s now time for me to turn my attention back to the core businesses and support Mireille [Soria] and Bonnie [Arnold, the new DreamWorks feature animation co-presidents] … I remain 100% committed to building DreamWorks Animation. My time and my focus needs to be on making blockbuster hit films. We have the people to do it.”

These layoffs from Dreamworks are only the latest in a string of events, indicating trouble in the film/animation industry. In early 2013, acclaimed visual effects studio “Rhythm & Hues” filed for bankruptcy. The beleaguered company won an Academy Award in the same year for their amazing VFX work on the film “Life of Pi”.
VFX artists came out in force, to protest at the Oscars and highlight the absurdity. In a film culture that relies more heavily on visual effects to wow movie-goers and produce huge profits, protesters argue that unfair pricing models, and outsourcing are squeezing the VFX industry and its workers.
What’s next for Dreamworks’ releases?

  • Kung Fu Panda (March 18, 2016),
  • Trolls (November 4, 2016),
  • Boss Baby (January 13, 2017),
  • The Croods 2 (December 22, 2017),
  • The Larrikins (February 16, 2018),
  • and How to Train Your Dragon 3 (June 29, 2018)
  • B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations (off schedule, shifted back into development)

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