In a blow to its reputation as an animation powerhouse, the Walt Disney Company is reportedly outsourcing some of its animation to Canada amid drastic budget cuts and layoffs as the once-formidable studio attempts to reverse its financial decline.
Disney Animation Studios is farming out animation work on Iwájú, a six-part series that debuts on Disney+ on February 28, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter. The project reportedly marks the first time in its storied 100-year history that Disney Animation has outsourced to an independent studio rather than performing the work in-house.
The Canadian firm Cinesite is working on Iwájú at its Montreal offices.
Disney Animation is behind the movies Frozen, Zootopia, Big Hero Six, Moana, Strange World and last year’s Wish. The studio, which is separate from the Disney-owned Pixar, also produces animated series for the Disney+ streaming service, including Baymax.
Since its founding by Walt and Roy O. Disney in 1923, Disney Animation has prided itself as Hollywood’s premiere animation studio, pioneering the genre with such notable characters as Steamboat Willie, Snow White, Dumbo, and Bambi.
The studio was also behind four of Disney’s most treasured animated movies — The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King.