Deadline says that two dozen employees were laid off at Lucasfilm this week. We already heard there were layoffs, but this is the first word we’ve had on numbers. They say the cuts came in “financing, licensing and distribution.”
In an email to employees earlier this month, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said all significant organization changes at company would be completed by the end of April.
So hopefully this is the last we’ll hear of layoffs for the time being – unless Lucasfilm chooses to confirm the number.
UPDATE: A commenter on the Deadline piece going by ‘Ex-Lucas Employee’ says:
It wasn’t just 20. There were 300+ cuts three weeks ago and another 120-150 at Lucasfilm this week. It sounds like less because some of the 120+ this week are being required to work until as late as November if they want to receive severance.
So the number of people laid off this week may actually be significantly higher. I don’t know if we’ll ever get much official conformation on this, though.
RebelForce Radio is reporting that there have been layoffs at Lucasfilm today. People in “licensing, marketing,
and publishing” have been hit. No numbers yet, but here’s a bit of independent verification:
We don’t know Arnold-Strider, but according to her Twitter bio she was a Product Development Manager. We’ll keep an eye out for any other details as they come.
UPDATE: LucasBooks’ editor Jenifer Heddle says there were no layoffs in publishing:
With the official word that Lucasfilm’s video game division, LucasArts, was being effectively shut down this week, there’s been a lot of reminiscing of the great titles that LucasArts had developed and some investigation for why the closing happened, and the search for a silver lining.
With the company’s re-alignment to solely focus on licensing Lucasfilm’s intellectual property to outside game developers, in-house game development has been shut down, finally cancelling Star Wars: 1313 and First Assault games. (See our guest column from Paul Ens suggesting that Dark Horse could turn these game projects into graphic novels.) I’ve rounded up some of the views on the closure, with a look at LucasArts’ recent history, and some tributes to the game company that started in 1982 and the people who worked there, as well as my own nostalgic look at some of the games that were part of my life.
In a Rebel Force Radio interview that will go live tomorrow, Dave Filoni says he’s still with Lucasfilm Animation and touches on the next Star Wars series. IGN’s Eric Goldman has the report:
“At this point, I am involved in some early production discussions and exploration of what we’ll be doing with Star Wars animation in the future, which is really exciting for me and I have some friendly faces around me, of course, that are helping me on the project. So it’s a transition time, as I’ve said before, and I think it will lead to an exciting time and hopefully I’ll see things grow again.”
So no details, and clearly very early days yet, but at least it’s some further confirmation that a second show could eventually come into fruition.
Meanwhile, LucasArts, ILM and Lucasfilm Animation aren’t alone in suffering layoffs: Looks like Disney itself is facing a massive reorganization, according to Variety.
Kotaku reported and GameInformer confirmed with Lucasfilm that the company is in the process of shutting down LucasArts. Kotaku says that 150 have been laid off and both Star Wars: First Assault and Star Wars 1313 have been canceled. Variety is reporting that the layoffs are spilling over to Industrial Light & Magic as well.
Here’s part of the official statement:
“After evaluating our position in the games market, we’ve decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company’s risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games. As a result of this change, we’ve had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.”
This has expected for a while, and there was plenty of speculation that LucasArts was headed for the bin even before Disney was in the picture.
Ron Gilbert, creator and co-creater of several of the company’s most iconic games, says goodbye to Lucasfilm Games.
There have been multiple reports that layoffs are on the way for Lucasfilm Animation in the wake of the cancellation of The Clone Wars.
If this does pan out, it’s not particularly surprising: Our own Stooge predicted the end of Lucasfilm Animation last week. Alas, as sad as it is, it only makes sense that Disney would eliminate a department that’s redundant to their own extensive resources. Our pal Bryan at Big Shiny Robot has a level-headed examination of the yet-unconfirmed moves:
But renewed calls to panic in this case aren’t justified. This seems wholly consistent with the plan we were upset about a week ago. What’s being done to The Clone Wars is unfair, both to the fans and the artists who create the show, and it will never hurt to voice your support, but being upset at a cat for eating a mouse (or in this case a giant mouse eating a television show) is to deny the nature of the thing.
That said, the letter-writing campaign that’s being pushed is far from useless: If you enjoyed The Clone Wars then, yes, make your voice heard. It may be too late to turn back the clock for Clone Wars, but it might make a difference for the remaining episodes, or show that there’s enough interest to sustain another show.
But it’s also time to sit down, take a deep breath, and make sure you’re presenting your case in a calm and rational manner. Panic only breeds more panic, and that’s not the kind of statement that’s going to make a good impression on the higher-ups at Disney – or anyone else.
UPDATE: The good news is, Bryan got word from Lucasfilm that the ‘bonus content’ that was promised – and deeply doubted – “will absolutely be made available to fans.”
CBR says that among those let go is Dave Land, who has worked on several Lucasfilm properties as editor, including Star Wars Tales, Tag & Bink Are Dead and was in charge of their Indiana Jones line.
He also wrote Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back.
The cuts affected at least two other editors and a sales assistant. There may be another cuts in the sales department. According to The Beat, Dark Horse has over a hundred employees.
We wish Land and his compatriots the best.
Random House is among the publishers doing some housecleaning and restructuring right now. I’m not seeing Del Rey get any mentions, even in the blogs, but the Star Wars line is a massive cash cow, so maybe the folks there will weather it out. (Wizards of the Coast, however…)
But my point: I’m going to echo Scalzi and say that now is a good time to go buy some stuff that doesn’t have the safety net of a massive franchise and a 4-year contract, i.e. all those other books. Remember, science fiction and fantasy is a niche market, and thus likely to get caught up in cuts along the bottom line. So go out and support your favorites: Every paperback helps, and the bookstores aren’t doing that hot, either.
UPDATE: Scalzi is having a suggest-a-thon.
ShackNews is reporting that yet more layoffs are coming after The Force Unleashed, with all remaining projects to be outsourced to third party developers.