There has been a lot going on in the world of Disney animation over the course of the last year. There have been some incredible highs and also some incredible lows. Both Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios have new Chief Creative Officers. John Lasseter is no longer associated with either beyond a consulting role until the end of the year. Now Disney is also closing its DisneyToon Studios.
DisneyToon Studios is the animation studio behind both the Planes and Fairies franchises. “After much consideration, we have made the decision to end production activity and close Disneytoon Studios,” a Disney spokesperson told IndieWire. There will be 75 layoffs of animators and staff. At this point, it is unknown if they will be moved to other animation studios within the company. It also isn’t known if this move was made in anticipation of the acquisition of 21st Century Fox, which has its own animation studios.
The move was not made due to recent promotions at Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. It apparently had already been in the works. It was scheduled to have a theatrical feature focused on the future of aviation. This was in development with Klay Hall (Planes) and Bobs Gannaway (Planes: Fire & Rescue) and scheduled to hit theaters in 2019. This film has now been removed from the scheduled theatrical releases.
DisneyToon Studios was originally spun out of the Disney Movie Toons in 2004 with Lion King 1/1/2. It went on to be the studio behind movies like Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, Mulan II, and Bambi II. It was also the studio behind the Planes and Disney Fairies franchises. Its main focus was always home entertainment. With dwindling sales of DVD/Blu-Ray, this closure appears to make sense financially.
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