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Disney's Pixar Shakes Up Creative Leadership Amid 75 Job Cuts: 'Lightyear' Executives Depart

A reshuffling within Walt Disney's Pixar Animation Studios has resulted in 75 layoffs, affecting significant players, including the creative minds behind "Lightyear."

Pixar logo
Pixar logo

Major Layoffs Hit Disney's Pixar

The reputable Pixar Animation Studios, a subsidiary of Walt Disney, announced the termination of 75 positions on Saturday. This development marks the first time Pixar has carried out large-scale layoffs in a decade. Two executives instrumental in making "Lightyear," a box-office underperformer, were among those let go.

Key 'Lightyear' Creators Among the Departed

Among those affected by the layoffs were "Lightyear" director Angus MacLane and producer Galyn Susman. MacLane, a seasoned animator with 26 years under his belt, contributed significantly to acclaimed Pixar films like "Toy Story 4" and "Coco." On the other hand, Susman has been a part of the Pixar family since the debut of the original "Toy Story" film in 1995.

Publicity VP Also Included in Pixar Layoffs

Michael Agulnek, who has been serving as Pixar's Vice President of Worldwide Publicity since 2015, was also among the unfortunate casualties of these layoffs. Agulnek was not available for comments.

Disney's Restructuring Triggers Massive Job Cuts

The recent layoffs, which took place on May 23, resulted from Disney CEO Bob Iger's strategy to slash costs by $5.5 billion and cut 7,000 jobs. This massive overhaul merged the film and television groups into a single Disney Entertainment unit while abolishing a division handling distribution.

Pixar's Creative Force Affected by Job Cuts

Although the layoffs are a small percentage of Pixar's 1,200-employee base, their significance lies in its reputation as a creative powerhouse. Pixar has consistently produced franchises and characters that have been lucrative sources of revenue across Disney.

'Lightyear' Performance Contributes to Pixar Shake-up

Pixar is renowned for blockbuster franchises such as "Toy Story," "The Incredibles," and "Cars." However, "Lightyear," with a production budget of $200 million, only garnered a modest $226.7 million in worldwide ticket sales, resulting in mixed reviews. Notably, "Incredibles 2" (2018) - with a comparable budget - brought in a staggering $1.2 billion worldwide.

Controversy Over 'Lightyear' Impacts Revenue

"Lightyear" faced controversy due to its depiction of a same-sex relationship, leading to the film's ban in 14 Middle Eastern and Asian countries. This significantly impacted its box office performance.

Disney's Company-Wide Layoffs

Disney's layoffs are extensive, affecting every division, including film and television, streaming services, and theme parks.

Looking Back at Pixar's Previous Layoffs

Pixar last conducted layoffs in 2013 following the delayed release of the 2015 film "The Good Dinosaur" and the removal of its director, Bob Peterson. Approximately 30 positions were axed then.

Disney and Pixar: A Strategic Alliance

Disney acquired Pixar back in 2006 as an effort to breathe new life into its then-floundering Disney Animation division.