DreamWorks Lays Off 500 Employees, Delaying ‘How To Train Your Dragon 3’
DreamWorks Animation is seriously downsizing.
The studio will lay off 500 employees, knocking its movie output down to two movies per year, a reduction from the yearly three, as a result of disappointing box office numbers in recent years. In short, they seem to be following more of a Pixar model, since the studio responsible for Toy Story and Finding Nemo is far more successful despite releasing only one movie per year. Of course, that’s changing for Pixar in the coming years, as the studio will be releasing two films this year (Inside Out in June, and The Good Dinosaur in November) and two in 2017 (Toy Story 4 and an as-yet Untitled film). But the success of Pixar is largely the result of its slimmer release model, and more original concepts that mostly result in better films.
For this year, DreamWorks is already scaling back on its release schedule, putting out only one film in 2015. That movie is Home, the comedy starring Rihanna, Jim Parsons, Jennifer Lopez, and Steve Martin. It’s an adaptation of Adam Rex’s 2007 children’s book The True Meaning of Smekday, although it’s more anticipated for its soundtrack than anything else, Rihanna created a 12-track concept album for the film.
But back to the DreamWorks problem…
The downsizing has resulted in a reduction in the work force, as roughly 19% of the company’s employees will be affected by these job cuts, which will reportedly come from “all locations and all divisions” of the company. As a result, this means a delay in the release schedule.
As it stands currently, Kung Fu Panda 3 and Trolls will be released in 2016, while Boss Baby and The Croods 2 will hit theaters in 2017, followed by Larrikins and How to Train Your Dragon 3 in 2018. This is a significant delay for How to Train Your Dragon 3, as the sequel to the Oscar-nominated How To Train Your Dragon 2 was originally scheduled for release in summer 2017. Of course, it’s probably for the best that the movie was pushed back, since it would have gone head-to-head with Toy Story 4, which will be released on June 16, 2017.
“The number one priority for DreamWorks Animation’s core film business is to deliver consistent creative and financial success,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, in a letter to investors. “I am confident that this strategic plan will deliver great films, better box office results, and growing profitability across our complementary businesses.”
In addition to the restructuring of the workforce, the company has announced the departure of three top executives: chief marketing officer Dawn Taubin, chief operating officer Mark Zoradi and vice chairman Lewis Coleman.
Only time will tell if this move works for the studio, but at least DreamWorks is addressing the problem head-on. I still prefer Pixar films, by and large, as well as Walt Disney Animation Studios movies, but DreamWorks is still capable of producing quality work, as evidenced by How To Train Your Dragon 2, which is the frontrunner for the Best Animated Feature Oscar (now that The LEGO Movie was obnoxiously snubbed).
So although DreamWorks might be down, they’re far from out.