Earlier this month it was reported that due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, The Walt Disney Company would begin furloughing employees “whose jobs aren’t necessary” and the process has now officially begun. Notices of which employees would be furloughed went out today, and according to The Hollywood Reporter both the marketing and distribution departments at Walt Disney Studios have been "especially impacted." The lone bright side of the furlough news for effected employees is that they will remain Disney employees for "the duration of the furlough period" and will still receive their full health care benefits with premiums paid by Disney.
It was estimated last month that Disney was losing about $350,000 a day for every one that passed with their parks’ gates closed. Movie revenue has also slowed as projects have had to be shuffled to accommodate theater closures. The studio recently shuffled their release schedule as a result of the panademic with Pixar's Soul and the live-action Mulan currently scheduled as their next theatrical releases, Soul is set for June 19 (though many expect it to vacate that date) and Mulan is scheduled for July 24.
The changes to the movie schedule have caused a number of other disruptions to Disney's release plans as Onward hit theaters shortly before the closures and ended up being released early on digital download and Disney+. Frozen 2 also arrived on the streaming platform months ahead of schedule. Also of note would be the big Marvel Studios tentpole that was poised to make splash in the early summer months with Black Widow, that film and the entire "Phase 4" slate from Marvel Studios has been pushed back.
"The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on our world with untold suffering and loss, and has required all of us to make sacrifices," The Walt Disney Company said in a statement earlier this month. "Over the last few weeks, mandatory decrees from government officials have shut down a majority of our businesses. Disney employees have received full pay and benefits during this time, and we’ve committed to paying them through April 18, for a total of five additional weeks of compensation."
"However, with no clear indication of when we can restart our businesses, we’re forced to make the difficult decision to take the next step and furlough employees whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time. The furlough process will begin on April 19, and all impacted workers will remain Disney employees through the duration of the furlough period. They will receive full healthcare benefits, plus the cost of employee and company premiums will be paid by Disney, and those enrolled in Disney Aspire will have continued access to the education program."
"Additionally, employees with available paid time off can elect to use some or all of it at the start of the furlough period and, once furloughed, they are eligible to receive an extra $600 per week in federal compensation through the $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, as well as state unemployment insurance."