Posted by Anim8tor on February 15, 2000 at 21:45:44:
First the sad news:Walt Disney Animation Canada is shuttering its studios in Vancouver and Toronto, throwing about 200 Canuck artists and producers out on the street.
The closure follows the postponement last fall of the home vid project “Peter Pan,” which retreated into development, causing layoffs of animators hired for that project (Daily Variety, Sept. 3, 1999).
Disney’s four-year adventure in Canada — where, at least in theory, costs are supposed to be lower — effectively ended with termination notices sent to employees last week. However, the Mouse House had all but mothballed Vancouver operations at year-end.
The Mouse House on Monday issued the following statement from its Burbank headquarters:
“Walt Disney Animation Canada Inc. will cease active animation production in Toronto and Vancouver in spring 2000. Our experience working in Canada for the past four years has been outstanding … however, accelerated production schedules that prompted Disney Animation to locate in Canada have changed. As a result, we find that production needs are covered by pre-existing facilities, and we are unable to maintain an animation studio in Canada.”
Sources said the Canuck office may remain open after the animation studios go dark.
The Canada closings make it clear that the Mouse House feels that there are not enough animation projects to keep a stable of animators under contract here. They also testify to the fact that animation is not only an expensive business but also one that ebbs and flows on a per project basis.
A number of Disney employees have already found work in the otherwise booming, talent-hungry animation industry here, a Mainframe Entertainment rep told Daily Variety.
Vancouver Film School spokesman Mike Girard said, “We don’t think it’s a big deal at all.” However, in light of the recent closing of Fox animation’s Phoenix-based offices because of lack of work for technicians and animators, Disney’s decision reflects some tough times for the animation world.
Disney’s Toronto studio opened in January 1996, and the Vancouver studio followed that December, quickly buffing up to a work force of some 225.
“Beauty and the Beast: the Enchanted Christmas,” a direct-to-video production, was released in November 1997. A homevideo sequel to “The Little Mermaid” was the most recent project.
And now the happy news:
For all of those who are thinking about putting their animation on the Net, Columbia TriStar is debuting an episode of "Dilbert" on its website for the next two weeks. The first time any show has done this in prime time.
Pretty cool and pretty exciting for those of us in animation!!
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