Like most major movie studios, Walt Disney Studios is comprised of various divisions, and that includes several smaller studios handling animation work. The main branch, Walt Disney Animation Studios, has put out movies like Zootopia and Moana, while Pixar keeps churning out those Pixar-y movies, from sequels like Incredibles 2 to originals like Coco. And until today, there was also DisneyToon Studios, which primarily made direct-to-video movies, with the occasional theatrical release thrown in. However, it's been announced that DisneyToon will be shutting its doors.
As reported by Indiewire, and coming off the heels of Pete Docter and Jennifer Lee replacing John Lasseter as the heads of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, respectively, Disney has decided to close down DisneyToon Studios. This shuttering is said to be unrelated to Docter and Lee's promotions, but as a result, 75 staff members, including animators, will be laid off, and it's unclear if any of them will be transferred to Pixar or the main Disney animation branch. An untitled movie about the future of aviation from Klay Hall and Bobs Gannaway has also been removed from its March 2019 release slot and is no longer in development.
Although DisneyToon Studios was officially launched in 2004, it was spun out of DisneyMovie Toons, which was founded in 1990 with the release of DuckTales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp. In the DisneyToon Studios era, the direct-to-video offerings included The Lion King 1 1/2, Mulan II and Bambi II, but its biggest franchise was unquestionably the Disney Faeries film series, which starred Tinkerbell and was spearheaded by John Lasseter. However, DisneyToon also occasionally delved into theatrical releases, most notably with the Cars spinoff Planes and its sequel Planes: Fire and Rescue. Alas, with the straight-to-Blu-ray/DVD market not being what it once was, apparently Disney decided it was better to just shut down DisneyToons for good.
It's unclear if Disney will keep releasing direct-to-video movies in the future from a different division. That said, I imagine with the Disney empire... sorry, family, now boasting Marvel and Lucasfilm in its ranks, the company doesn't have to concern itself with drawing in extra money from these direct-to-video offerings when the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars franchise (for the most part) are raking in the big bucks, not to mention how well many of Disney's "main" movies have performed. And besides, it's not like there will be a lack of animated movies coming from the Mouse House in the future, as Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar have plenty of projects along the way that will keep audiences entertained.
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