As much as we all like to look at cartoons as being exempt from the fetters of adult concerns, animation is a business and sometimes businesses have to trim their costs in order to stay solvent. According to the executives from Disney who released the statement about the “small reduction in staffing levels” at Pixar, the simple reality is that the postponement of The Good Dinosaur to 2015 means income will not sustain the staff levels Pixar was operating with.
Reportedly, 5% of their Emeryville staff has been let go and 2014 will be the first year since 2005 Pixar didn’t release a film. This follows the closing of the satellite studio Pixar opened only a few years ago in Canada and the successively bad news has many wondering what it means for Pixar long-term. Of course, Pixar is still the frontrunner in the animation industry—right?
With so many animation companies having such successful films and even franchises, (Despicable Me, How to Train Your Dragon, Madagascar, Ice Age) Pixar isn’t the only game in town. Walt Disney Animation Studios has also been churning out some big hits with Tangled and Wreck-it-Ralph recently bringing a lot of attention to the studio and Frozen looking to further solidify Disney as a real animation contender again/still. Another speculation spun from the Pixar news is that a combining of the studios may occur at some time in the future. Currently, Pixar and WDAS are located hundreds of miles apart although they share Creative Executives John Lasseter and Ed Catmull.
As for Pixar, their legacy is great and I, for one, believe they will remain the best in the business (there’s that word again). They still have the most acclaimed list of films and they are certainly the reigning champions, even without a film coming out in 2014. News like the layoffs at Pixar simply remind us that no one is immune from economic reality—not me, not the government and not Pixar.