Award-Winning Humanitarian Katzenberg Kills 350 Jobs


DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg announced that 350 of his 2,200 studio employees will be laid off by the end of the year.

The news comes in the wake of a $165 million loss the production company reported from the disappointing results of its most recent film, Rise of the Guardian.

Katzenberg opened up to the Hollywood Reporter about his company’s restructuring:

“It’s been very hard. We had 17 hits in a row, and this is the first one that didn’t work for us,” Katzenberg said of Rise of the Guardians. “So it makes you go back and rethink everything, not just the fact that it didn’t work — certainly we spent a lot of time reflecting on that — but more importantly saying, ‘Let’s look at everything and say, “What could we be doing better, smarter, more effectively to really position the company in the best possible way gong forward?” ‘ And that’s what we’ve done, and that’s what restructuring is all about.”

Katzenberg said, however, that the company won’t be downsizing its physical presence, nor will production work need to be further farmed out elsewhere, even though a large portion of the layoffs are coming from production.

“This is really about right-sizing the enterprise here for the productions that we’re doing, so a combination of resetting the scale of what we’re doing coupled with our next-generation animation tools, which are much more efficient and faster and higher quality, is allowing us to scale down the enterprise and maintain the quality.”

DreamWorks Animation’s decision comes just days after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored Katzenberg with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for raising more $200 million for the Motion Picture and Television Fund.

The studio bigwig doesn’t limit his donor activities to the arts: Katzenberg gave $3 million in donations to the pro-Obama Super PAC, Priorities USA.

The mega-donor also bundled more than $2 million for President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and more than $6.6 million since Obama’s first run to the White House. At a private fundraiser last spring that netted Obama $15 million for reelection, the president called Katzenberg “an extraordinary friend.”

Katzenberg’s studio is also facing an SEC investigation over allegations of bribing Chinese officials.