By David Ng
2:32 PM PST, January 16, 2013
Cirque du Soleil is laying off 400 people, mostly from its Montreal headquarters, due to what the company is citing as production costs and expenses. The layoffs represent 8% of the company's global workforce of approximately 5,000.
The announcement was made at a Montreal press conference on Wednesday. Guy Laliberté, the eccentric billionaire who is a founder of the company, was not present, according to reports.
The news comes a month after Cirque announced the early closure of "Iris," its big-budget Los Angeles production at the Dolby Theatre. "Iris," which opened in 2011, had been expected to run for at least 10 years but the company is scheduled to shut down the production on Saturday following weak box-office results.
A spokeswoman for Cirque did not respond to requests for further comment.
The last few years have been difficult ones for Cirque, which has seen some of its productions fail financially. The company saw early closings of "Viva Elvis" in Las Vegas in August and "Zaia" in Macao earlier in 2012. Its 2010 production of "Banana Shpeel," which ran in New York at the Beacon Theatre, was a critical and box-office dud.
Cirque is expected to begin the staff reductions by the end of January. The Montreal offices employ approximately 2,000 individuals.
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