DreamWorks Animation plans substantial layoffs

DreamWorks Animation plans substantial layoffs

Stung by a series of box office misfires and failed sale attempts, DreamWorks Animation plans a substantial number of layoffs, two people familiar with the matter said.

In a move to cut operating costs, the Glendale studio intends to significantly reduce the size of its workforce, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the plans.

While the precise number of people who will lose their jobs has yet to be finalized, the number is expected to exceed the 350 layoffs that occurred in 2013 after the studio shelved production of the movie "Me and My Shadow."

Layoffs are expected to include animators, story-board artists and other production personnel and support staff at the studio's Glendale and Redwood City facilities, which employ about 2,200 workers.

A spokesman for DreamWorks said the company "does not comment on rumor and speculation."

The restructuring comes after a turbulent period for DreamWorks Animation, which has been attempting to diversify its operations following a rocky period at the box office that has eroded profits and caused a sharp decline in the company's share price.

The company, founded two decades ago, has struggled to replicate the success of its earlier "Shrek," "Kung Fu Panda" and "Madagascar" movies.

The company has reported three write-downs in the last two years for "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," "Rise of the Guardians" and "Turbo."

The studio's most recent release, "Penguins of Madagascar," also has underperformed since its premiere in November.

The layoffs follow a recent management shakeup at the studio that saw the departure of longtime DreamWorks executive Bill Damaschke, the studio's chief creative officer. Veteran producers Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria have taken over as co-presidents of feature animation.

CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has been in discussions to sell the studio, but his efforts have recently been rebuffed by several companies including Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank Corp., Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox and toymaker Hasbro Inc.

Twitter: @rverrier

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