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Disney layoffs hit film studios as cost cutting continues after Fox deal

Disney layoffs hit film studios as cost cutting continues after Fox deal
Several dozen people lost their jobs at Walt Disney Studios on Wednesday. (Valerie Macon / AFP/Getty Images)

Walt Disney Co. shed more workers Wednesday within its film studios as the company absorbs the 20th Century Fox film operation that it acquired two months ago.

A studio spokesperson confirmed Wednesday that cuts were taking place at the 20th Century Fox film unit as well as Walt Disney Studios. But the Burbank entertainment company declined to provide the number of layoffs or information about what motion picture divisions were most affected.

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Several dozen people are believed to have lost their jobs in this week’s cuts.

It is the second round of cuts since Disney acquired much of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox in a $71.3-billion transaction completed in March. Two days after the deal closed, about two dozen executives received termination notices, largely high-level executives at the 20th Century Fox lot in Century City, who learned they would not be part of the corporate move to Disney. Most received handsome severance packages, according to two people familiar with the move but not authorized to comment.

The layoffs, first reported by Variety, are expected to continue throughout the year.

Disney was expected to shed about 4,000 people in an effort to consolidate the operations and cut people who are performing duplicative tasks.

Disney is looking for substantial cost savings to help pay debt that it took on to finance the Fox acquisition, which Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger views as a key combination that will fortify Disney for the streaming age.

The company has predicted it will realize about $2 billion in cost-saving synergies as a result of the Fox takeover.

In March, Disney said it was closing down the specialty Fox 2000 label, which is best known for producing book adaptations, including “The Hate U Give,” "Hidden Figures" and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”

“We know this integration will entail quite a bit of change across our organizations,” Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn and President Alan Bergman wrote in a widely circulated memo in March, when the layoffs began. “We want to acknowledge that and assure you we are committed to engaging in this process thoughtfully and communicating changes as we are able — most importantly with respect for all involved.”

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