The layoffs affecting the Walt Disney Company continue to hit, and now those cuts are forcing Walt Disney Studios to look at their various movie divisions including the recently acquired Searchlight Pictures. Searchlight is the rebranded Fox Searchlight and focused on smaller budget projects including Oscar-winners like The Shape of Water, 12 Years a Slave, and Birdman. A new report from Deadline confirms six employees from Searchlight have been cut, while the marketing group and theatrical stage team in New York City have also been affected. This follows the layoffs at ESPN that eliminated 6% of its workforce, but the report states that these aren't as widespread. There is no word yet on if these layoffs will affect operations at Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, Pixar, or 20th Century Pictures.
As Deadline notes, similar cuts are taking place across the industry. Lionsgate Motion Picture Group cut 15% of their staff while Sony announced layoffs to their marketing and distribution divisions. NBCUniversal's TV and streaming units are also restructuring in the wake of launching Peacock.
Disney has also enacted major cuts across the theme parks division, especially in Disneyland in Anaheim which has not been able to reopen due to COVID-19. The spread of coronavirus has taken a major toll on the company which was preparing for a big year in 2020, but instead is having to weather the storm with no end of the pandemic in sight.
Even Walt Disney World, which has been operating at limited capacity since the summer, just had to layoff even more of its employees. They released a statement on the Disney Parks Blog which reads, "Recently, we’ve had to make some difficult decisions to reduce our workforce as the business impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic have become more long-lasting than anyone could have predicted. As a result, we’ve had to pause many live shows and entertainment experiences at our resort for longer than originally anticipated."
Many of the layoffs affected cast members who acted in live shows or served as characters in meet-and-greets with the fans. The parks division is currently examining ways to bring these installations and shows back safely amid the highly contagious COVID-19 pandemic.
"Determining which shows can return and when is a complex process. As with the rest of our phased reopening, we will also consider the guidance of health officials and government agencies in determining when the time will be right to adjust capacity, and as soon as it is appropriate, we will start to bring additional entertainment back," the statement explains of these adjustments. "Like most of our fans, we know that our beloved entertainment cast are an incredibly special and essential part of the Disney experience. We look forward to the day when we can welcome back more live entertainment to our parks, and we will share more news about these announcements as we’re able to do so."
Stay tuned for more information about Disney and how coronavirus affects their business dealings.