Dreamworks Animation has slashed 500 jobs companywide in a massive layoff that will ripple through its release schedule. The across-the-board job cuts will slow the company’s production capacity, bumping the third installment in the How To Train Your Dragon series to a June 2018 release date.
According to Variety, the job cuts didn’t come as a surprise for the embattled animation studio, which recently experienced a string of box-office failures, including Rise Of The Guardians, Mr. Peabody & Sherman and Turbo, with a combined loss of nearly $158 million. Just as the last round of Dreamworks layoffs in 2013 resulted in a year delay for Mr. Peabody, the new cuts—which represent 20 percent of the company’s workforce—will hamper the studio’s feature film productivity.
Dreamworks said the leaner company will only be capable of turning out two features per year, as opposed to three. The company wants to split its efforts between original titles and sequels, releasing one of each in 2016, 2017 and 2018. On the originals side, Dreamworks will complete Trolls for 2016, then Boss Baby and Larrikins in the subsequent years. The corresponding sequels will be next year’s Kung Fu Panda 3, followed by The Croods 2 and Train Your Dragon 3, which was originally slated for 2016.
There was no word on the future of the Shrek franchise, which Katzenberg has repeatedly mentioned as an ongoing concern. But with Dreamworks’ new reduced schedule, it looks less likely Shrek will return before the decade is out.