Breaking: Pixar Canada Just Shut Down; 100 Employees Let Go [UPDATED]

Just three years after it opened, Pixar Canada shut down today leaving over one hundred people unemployed, according to the Province. A Disney spokesperson, Barb Matheson, said that, “A decision was made to refocus operations and resources under the one roof. Staff were just told today. Not great news, obviously. It was just a refocussing of efforts and resources to the one facility.”

The studio, which worked primarily on shorts based on existing Pixar IP, had created films like Air Mater, Small Fry, and Partysaurus Rex. The news took a lot of people by surprise, including Partysaurus Rex director Mark Walsh, who posted this simple message on his Twitter account:

Pixar Canada animator Daniel Floyd is taking the whole thing in stride:

Sarah McNair, Pixar Canada’s director of human resources, calls it the saddest day of her professional career:

UPDATE: On Monday, just one day before the studio closure, the Province paper published this article about Pixar Canada’s studio space.

“Is there a place more beautiful than Vancouver?” asks John Lasseter. Real question: how much longer do you think this video will stay online?


  • Jason

    Tax credits are a funny thing.

    • http://the-animatorium.blogspot.com/ Natalie Belton

      It is very ironic how films can do relatively well, and layoffs still occur.

  • Jen Hurler

    Damn. That was such a cool idea…a large studio having a smaller studio elsewhere working on shorts and training, as opposed to many studios that have multiple locations that are about the same size. Not that one was better than the other. It was a cool change and I’d hoped to see it grow and take on more prominent projects. Best of luck to the unfortunate artists/employees.

  • George Comerci

    I’m literally speechless….this is awful……….I really hope Pixar itself isn’t going to shut down…..this is just….horrid. D:

    • Thomas Paul Jennings

      Of course it freaking won’t!

  • David

    Well, at least they didn’t wait until a week before Christmas to lay everyone off . Seriously, my sympathies to the Pixar Canada employees . As an ex-employee at Walt Disney Feature Animation FLORIDA I know what you are going through .

    • Rob

      Shutting down the Florida studio was one of the worst decisions Disney ever made. I still don’t think they have recovered or found their footing as a company ever since. (Not saying they are lost because of the Florida shut down, but rather the Florida shut down was the final straw in a very serious break in the company.)

    • Thenatkidd1

      A Bugs Bunny profile pic and you stating that your an ex employee of Disney. Hmm, so are you working WB now?

  • KoolAidAllergic

    That’s a two-word message, Amid, but we get the idea. Not surprised by this. Disney did the same to two newly-formed studios in Canada not so long ago, and it’s been clear for years that Pixar is just another big company, even before they were acquired by DizCorp. My heart goes out to all the starry-eyed folks who uprooted their lives to move to Vancouver. Hope you find new work soon.

  • Mike

    Really sad to hear this. Considering they were based on existing IP the Canada shorts typically weren’t very groundbreaking, but they were usually humorous and easy on the eyes. I especially liked their Toy Story shorts.

    This sounds like more Disney Accountaneering at its finest. Best of luck to all the Pixar Canada artists.

    • Crispy Walker

      haaah… accountaneering is my new word of the day.

  • Teresa

    My oldest is an animator. Daniel Floyd’s remarks are pretty standard considering the fact that it seems as though short-term contracts are the employment norm in the animation field…

    • Scott550

      Twas ever thus.

  • Power_Animator

    OUCH!! this hurts sooo bad. “When one door closes…another opens”.

  • Karl Hungus

    “Partysaurus Rex” is probably one the funniest short that Pixar has ever made.

  • Taco

    DisNO!! PixARG!!… terrible news for animation & the Canadian Industry… something must be going on Emeryville.

  • Bruce

    Makes you wonder if Disney would have still closed the studio down if ‘The Good Dinosaur’ was on schedule…

    • Funkybat

      I doubt there was a connection, as Pixar Canada wasn’t involved in features production. This probably had more to do with changes in the economic calculus north of the border.

  • Shannon Blaney

    Looks to me like Disney and Pixar are just consolidating studios and operating costs. There’s no need for a Pixar in Canada, when Disney is essentially copying Pixar’ s look for their 3D movies anyway. Hopefully Pixar will take these layoffed folks back into their fold in Emeryville.

  • Clutch

    Sad. Not having a film released next year and no revenue for 2014…you gotta take it out on SOMEBODY, I guess. Wouldn’t want those investors on wall street seeing losses of ANY amount, would we? No no no..

  • D. Harry

    This is the backlash for the Dinosaur movies costs.

  • Sam Logan

    I suppose once you’ve produced a 180-million-grossing film like Planes in India, no degree of North American tax incentives are going to feel competitive…

  • purley quirt

    There is an undefended hill here … a pocket of $ … i.e. actors with guaranteed audience interest who have great talent but need ” animated” bodies to continue their craft in the roles they want to perform.

    • Juwei Nam

      Exactly what part of statement has anything to do with animators losing their jobs? What? What? Oh Nothing. You burst out actors and undefined lines like it means anything. It doesn’t. The bottom is what matters and the actors are only another expensive dog bone.

  • Hass

    Pixar Canada : Tax avoidance vehicle (duh!)

  • Juwei Nam

    Own good…Postponement of the good Dinosaur is a good sign to you? Damn, so the apocalypse is right up your alley. Do you even know what’s under their one roof? There’s nothing wrong with a big company or small company and deciding “Oh you shouldn’t grow too big” is actually pretty cruel.
    NO, No, no, sorry maam, you will have to be beheaded. You’re carrying too many bags. (Part of the reason Marie Antoinette was killed was because she and her husband were greedy little piggies who spent and spent and spent, but is that any reason to chop off the heads of people who cared more about the next pair of shoes rather than defending the country? No, it isn’t).
    It also isn’t right to go “Oh good fire them, because you’re too big of a company. It should be “Oh good, you were all assholes making triple the national average doing next to nothing and letting general corruption”.

  • http://www.chrisnyarady.com/ Chris “Moo” Nyarady

    The work Pixar Canada did on those shorts was amazing. Truly saddened by the news.

  • Pedro Nakama

    George needs his check. The money has to come from somewhere.

  • Harry Bastard

    Two days before Thanksgiving weekend. Nice. Not quite Christmas Eve, but close.

  • Ant G

    I have a new opinion on this with the inclusion of the updated segment on what their studio looked like. The article mentioned “only 80 people work in this 30,000 sq studio”, well no wonder it was shut down. I don’t believe animators should work in sweat factories, but come on, money could be invested in better things. I wonder how many more years they could have stayed open if they worked in an environment that actually looked like an office.

  • Jason

    The system of subsidies basically set it up for them to be animating for really low cost. Vancouver didn’t expand their subsidies system during their vote so I guess the free money wasn’t quite enough for Pixar for outsource trickery.

  • Thomas Paul Jennings

    Uh… The video IS down. Any mirrors?

  • Sam Logan

    Exactly. And perhaps from Disney’s perspective, Pixar doesn’t have to produce future spin-off films or shorts based on Pixar films, either.

  • AgNO3

    Pixar is owned by disney. Planes was an offshoot of cars done by disney in India at near pixar levels and style. Disney magically wonders why they have animators in Canada when they can use their Indian and Chinese locations for a lot less and get the result they need. the result they need is just enough quality to make a lot of money. Canada failed in that world. Main artist that matter stay in Emeryville everything else disney will be India and China.

  • AgNO3

    you are right it wouldn’t have closed it would have just moved to Montreal then closed next year

  • JP

    Piece was published by BC Business. Atmosphere was jovial, upbeat when we shot it in August, no indication they were a few weeks from closure.

  • http://www.studiomiguel.com Studiomiguel

    Wait… Planes was produced in India? I totally checked out on this feature, I was only vaguely aware that it even hit theaters.
    Such a shame that we spend out lives honing our craft and our art and are at the whim of decisions made exclusively for the benefit of a few who’s only real contribution is to set up a system by where a few can acquire large amounts of money. But, it’s ALWAYS been that way with the arts. Part of a commodity based system.

  • Shocking!

    I meant layoffs from major studios!

  • Mister Twister

    Levels of hate rising…

  • chimpo

    saw this coming right when they opened it. Know thy industry…

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Those shorts always came off more like time filler to me between the obnoxious tween programming seen throughout.

  • Eric R

    You live by the subsidies, you die by the subsidies….

  • Figures

    I love how through all this and so many animation veterans getting the shaft or fleeing the studio recently Lasseter hasn’t said a word.

  • Fred

    Pixar set up a small office in Gastown to be a temp headquarters to stage their Vancouver operation. But instead of finding a nice vacant bldg, they colluded with the landlord to force 7 local creative arts companies out of the bldg which they set up 30,000 sq ft. It was bad vibes and unethical bullying business from the start. I was there. I was sued out of my valid lease until the legal costs got to $30,000. The other tenants gave up and left. Pixar spent millions of dollars trying to make the building look hip and cool, without being hip and cool. Artificial contrived workspace and the landlord told me they just smoked hash and watched the trains go by. It was not a good creative environment and the operations manager was an accountant. They never did anything that justified their existence, caused great problems for the local small businesses they displaced and, in the end, fired everybody with no notice. They didn’t take anyone with them to Burbank and must have bailed on their lease which would have been longer than 3 years and probably 10. Just a wholly bad idea and bad for everybody they trampled on.