Disney Shutters CG Unit

When Disney announced plans to acquire digital animation juggernaut Pixar, the studio also mentioned that it will be closing Circle 7, the CG facility it was building to produce its own sequels to Toy Story, Finding Nemo and other Pixar favorites. Now the Los Angeles Times reports that the Mouse House has officially closed the shop and dropped the axe on 32 employees.

The job cuts will be effective on May 26, but Disney says it will help laid-off employees find new work. The unit’s remaining 136 will apparently transition into roles at Walt Disney Feature Animation to work on such upcoming productions as Meet the Robinsons, Rapunzel: Unbraided and American Dog. Disney’s plans for Circle 7 head Andrew Millstein are not known at this time.

Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner set up Circle 7 (which got the nickname Pixaren’t) in Glendale when Pixar was looking elsewhere for a distribution partner. Since Disney owns rights to all of the Pixar productions, the studio was prepared to crank out sequels without the participation of Pixar CEO Steve Jobs and creative force John Lasseter.

Under the $7.4 billion acquisition deal, Disney has put its animation operation in the hands of Jobs, Lasseter and Pixar president Ed Catmull. Lasseter directed Cars, the seventh Disney/Pixar collaboration, which opens in theaters on June 9.