Disney Furloughs Hit Film Labels, Including Marvel and Lucasfilm

Matt Donnelly

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The Walt Disney Company’s previously announced furloughs have impacted each of its premium film labels, insiders tell Variety.

Beginning on Thursday, staffers at labels like Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Searchlight and more were notified of furloughs, primarily impacting staffers who cannot perform their job duties due to ongoing shutdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Marketing and distribution departments were affected, one insider said, as Disney’s film release calendar has been upended by the mass closure of movie theaters across the country. A time frame for the furloughs, which differs from a layoff in that employees retain benefits like healthcare, was not immediately clear.

Following a Disney stock downgrade from Wells Fargo on Tuesday, the ongoing cost cuts are not surprising — making it clear for many industry watchers that loss of revenue from the company’s parks business is reverberating across the board.

Disney is hardly alone, especially in the film business. In late March, Lionsgate cut from its theatrical distribution department. Hollywood’s talent agencies have also been greatly impacted, slashing salaries and laying off non-essential staff in these extraordinary circumstances.

“We’ve thought the value creation from Disney+ (and later on Hulu) would be enough to more than offset a declining environment for Media Networks,” wrote Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall this week. “We still believe in that, but we didn’t foresee this unique and severe downturn for Parks. We don’t think Parks can get back to anything close to full capacity until testing and/or vaccines are far more ubiquitous.”

The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news of the film furloughs.

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