About 200 positions are being eliminated from the DreamWorks Animation unit in Glendale, following Comcast and NBCUniversal’s $3.8 billion acquisition of the company this year. The news came as a memo to the staff from Jeff Shell, Chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, who wrote: “We have begun sharing organizational decisions that will result in the elimination of approximately 200 positions at our Glendale campus. These changes are focused in the corporate overhead groups as well as distribution and consumer products, areas where we can fully integrate operations with NBCUniversal.”
The layoffs are not a surprise and routinely happen after mergers and acquisitions of this size as evaluations are made to eliminate overlaps. Comcast closed its deal to acquire DWA in August, folding in the company to its NBCUniversal Filmed Entertainment. In its Q2 filing, DWA showed that it spent $1.2 million in the quarter out of a $17.3 million bonus plan to keep employees while waiting for the deal with Comcast to close, and stay for the following six months.
While Universal hasn’t officially announced which DWA titles it will be distributing, sources say they don’t anticipate 20th Century Fox releasing any DWA titles after 2017. That would mean that the Fox-dated DWA product Larrikins (February 16, 2018), How to Train Your Dragon 3 (June 29, 2018) and The Croods 2 (undated) would move to Uni. Upcoming DWA titles on Fox’s calendar include Trolls (November 4), The Boss Baby (March 31) and Captain Underpants (June 2).
Employees in marketing, distribution, consumer products and financial areas in Glendale will start receiving termination notices as early as this week. Here’s the memo that was sent out this AM:
Subject: A Message From Jeff Shell
As we move along in the process of integrating our companies, the leadership team will continually evaluate the needs of our business to ensure we are best positioned to meet our goal of being a leader in premium animation content across all platforms. As indicated on Day One, we remain committed to transparency and, over the next few months, will communicate about any changes expected as a part of the integration with NBCUniversal.
To that end, today we have begun sharing organizational decisions that will result in the elimination of approximately 200 positions at our Glendale campus. These changes are focused in the corporate overhead groups as well as distribution and consumer products, areas where we can fully integrate operations with NBCUniversal.
Those who will be impacted by these decisions will be notified this week and many will be working with us over the next several months as a part of the transition. These are difficult but necessary moves as we work to integrate our organizations and we will be as generous as possible to those who will be leaving the company.
We know you will join us in supporting your colleagues during this time of transition and we too will be exploring other opportunities for them and providing career placement counseling to help minimize the impact.
Looking forward, we are excited about the incredible opportunities ahead for our combined organization and we will work together to make them a reality.
Thanks for your continued hard work,