23 September 2003 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The Walt Disney Co. is bidding sayonara to Walt Disney Animation (Japan), its Tokyo-based animation studio that has turned out such projects as the theatrical releases Piglet's Big Movie and The Tigger Movie as well as direct-to-video titles like this year's 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure. In an internal memo distributed Friday, Disney revealed its plans to shut down the animation facility, which employs 103 local animators and artists. The closure will take effect once the studio completes work on its current project, a Winnie the Pooh spinoff called The Heffalump Movie. It has not yet been determined whether that project will be a theatrical or video/DVD release. In a statement, Disney acknowledged the studio's closure but added: "Our experience working in Japan for the past 14 years has been outstanding, primarily because of the world-class artists and executives who have produced exceptional animation. However, after reviewing our business plans and production requirements, we determined we no longer can support this additional production capacity."

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