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Netflix’s animation division is undergoing a restructure, which will result in job cuts and the cancellation of two films currently in pre-production. The streaming giant is planning to bring in external producers to maintain its animated content output.
The exact number of job cuts has not been officially disclosed but is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. A Netflix spokesperson confirmed the restructuring plans but did not offer further details.
Since Karen Toliver was named Vice President of Animation in February 2022, the division has been reevaluating its long-term strategy while remaining committed to a strong slate of animated content. As part of this strategy, the animation division is exploring output deals with third-party producers to showcase their animated projects on the platform. The specific producers or companies that Netflix is approaching have not been revealed.
As a result of the restructuring, two films in the animation slate are affected. The first is an unannounced film called “Escape From Beverly Hills,” which will now be made available to other studios. The second film, “Tunga,” was acquired by Netflix at auction in 2019 from creator Godwin Jabangwe, who was born in Zimbabwe. “Tunga” is rooted in the mythology of the Shona culture and follows a young girl’s quest to find a mythical city where elder spirits can teach her to summon rain and save her community from a deadly drought. Despite being in turnaround, the film will remain with Netflix and is being sent back into development.
Despite the internal restructuring and broader market challenges, Netflix Animation had a successful year in 2023. The division won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” after an extensive awards campaign. The film featured a star-studded voice cast, including Ewan McGregor, Cate Blanchett, Christoph Waltz, and Tilda Swinton.
Upcoming releases from Netflix’s animation unit include “Leo,” featuring the voice of Adam Sandler as a lizard that has lived as a class pet in a Florida school for decades, and “Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.”