The merger between The Walt Disney Company and Fox was only completed after midnight on Wednesday morning, but the new owners have wasted no time in beginning to streamline the new company. A lot of layoffs were expected, and the first of them came to pass yesterday.
Many of the layoffs came at the top of the food chain. Chris Aronson, the president of Fox’s domestic distribution was informed yesterday that he will not be moving forward with Disney, though he was apparently given 60 days notice. Fox’s international distribution president was also given notice, as well as the president of worldwide marketing.
According to THR, many employees have not been officially let go yet, but they have been informed that they’ll only be kept on for a transitional period, three to six months depending on the situation. Fox employees being let go are apparently being given two weeks of severance pay for every year they spent with the company, with a maximum pay out of two years salary. For those few that have spent decades working for Fox, and there will be those that have, they’ll at least get a solid severance deal.
These layoffs were not necessarily unexpected. Disney and Fox were two companies in exactly the same business, which means there was a lot of overlap of job responsibilities between the two companies. Even with the addition of the various Fox divisions, the new company doesn’t necessarily need twice as many people in areas like marketing or distribution.
One decision that has been a surprise, however, is the decision to completely shutter Fox 2000. The label was run by Elizabeth Gabler and was responsible for producing mid-budget dramas and comedies, including such popular movies as Love, Simon, Hidden Figures, and The Devil Wears Prada. It had been believed that Gabler and Fox 2000 would be folded into the new company and remain largely unaltered, so the news from Deadline that the label is being shut down has come as a shock to many.
While the layoffs were certainly expected, Disney has been, and is apparently remaining, tight lipped about what the exact plan is for the future. THR reports that some employees on both sides of the new merger are now very cautious because none of them know how secure their positions are. It’s one thing to know that layoffs are going to happen, but not knowing how they will happen makes everybody nervous.
The total number of layoffs are expected to be in the thousands before things settle down, so this is clearly only the beginning. And of course, because of the merger itself, job prospects for those that find themselves without work will have that much more trouble finding a new job. If you’re looking to find work with a major movie studio, there are now fewer of them around that are hiring.