(NewsNation) — Warner Bros. Television Group (WBTVG) announced on Tuesday it’s cutting 26% of personnel — a total of 125 positions, across scripted, unscripted and animation.
Channing Dungey — who is both chairman of WBTVG and the first Black executive to run the entertainment division at a major network — called the move “incredibly difficult,” citing a “tumultuous time” in the industry in a memo to employees sent Wednesday.
In addition to the layoffs, the production company has opted not to fill 43 additional vacant positions, taking the total number of eliminated jobs to 125.
The news is the latest in what has been an overhaul for Warner Bros Discovery, which has been forced to make cuts in order to save at least $3 billion after the merger overseen by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav in April.
But while Dungey’s memo laid out several structural changes — from scripted and unscripted — none have made more waves than what’s to come of the animation departments, especially Cartoon Network.
The news caused some to say it’s the end of an era for ‘90s-era kids.
While Warner Bros. Animation, Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe and Cartoon Network Studios always had seamless integration across programming, casting, legal, business affairs and artist relations teams, following Discovery’s absorption of all three in August, it has changed the structure. The merger of the studios together in Discovery’s new “strategic realignment” — as Dungey calls the move — consolidates the development and production departments for the first time.
As Cartoonbrew, an animation news website put it, the move alters Cartoon Network’s structure going forward, as it will be the first time CNS will not have an independent say on either creative or operational matters in the channel’s existence.
“All three labels will continue to exist, but perhaps more in name than in action,” Cartoonbrew explained.
It may be what prompted Brian Miller, former general manager of Cartoon Network Studios, to tweet “RIP CNS” on Wednesday.
The lack of Cartoon Network’s creative control in the new alignment is only one indication of the doom and gloom ahead for the beloved animation studio alluded to by Miller.
While the three animation studios will continue to be run by Sam Register, many believe it’s a sign of fewer original projects from CNS, as Zaslav — who has prioritized intellectual properties (IP) in his role at Discovery — will ultimately oversee the departments, which now share development and production resources.
So, instead of shows such as “Uncle Grandpa,” “Steven Universe,” “Clarence,” “Over the Garden Wall,” and many other CSN originals that have been produced over the last year, animation viewers can expect remakes.
“As long as Zaslav is king, Cartoon Network Studios is likely to shift more strongly towards reboots of its existing catalog, as it is currently doing with ‘The Powerpuff Girls,’ than launching new IP,” Jamie Lang, of Cartoonbrew, wrote.
Although many woke up without a job today, Dungey wrote that she hopes the changes made “will strengthen and stabilize” the company and “better position” the company for future success.