Pencils Down at Walt Disney Animation Japan

Walt Disney Co. is shutting down Tokyo-based Walt Disney Animation (Japan). The animation studio produced many direct-to-video titles and theatrical releases like The Tigger Movie and this summer’s Piglet’s Big Movie for DisneyToon Studios. The shutters will come down following completion of The Heffalump Movie, a Winnie the Pooh spin-off.

Disney issued a statement saying. "Our experience working in Japan for the past 14 years has been outstanding, primarily because of the world-class artists and executives who have produced exceptional animation. However, after reviewing our business plans and production requirements, we determined we no longer can support this additional production capacity."

The Japan unit employs just over a hundred animation artists. A Disney representative tells Animation Magazine Online that work for DisneyToons Studios will now be divided up among animation facilities in the U.S. and Australia.

Disney says its Tokyo Disneyland Resort, The Disney Stores Japan, Buena Vista International and other Japan-based operations remain strong despite the closure, the latest fall-out from Disney’s newfound focus on 3D animation. The move comes after Disney laid off 50 animators from its Orlando facility, where its upcoming 2D release Brother Bear was animated. That film will debut in select cities on Oct. 24 and open wider in November.