In the latest development in a turbulent year for studio activity in local production and acquisitions, Disney confirmed on Monday (19) it closed down its local language production unit in Burbank back in June.
Jason Reed, who headed the unit as evp and general manager of Walt Disney Studios International Production, served through until the end of August and has now left the company. He was a 16-year veteran of the studio and assumed his last post in February 2010.
Reed’s team of approximately six people have variously been reassigned to other units within Disney while others have left the company.
It is understood the studio will continue to consider local production opportunities on a case-by-case basis. The move decentralises Disney’s global production efforts and places the onus on field offices to suggest appropriate projects. The decision to close the Burbank office was first reported by the Financial Times on Thursday (15).
Disney is a part-owner of India’s UTV and maintains a relationship with Channel One in Russia. Disney and Channel One are collaborating on After School, a 3D feature and television series based on the escapades of Russian high school students. The feature is scheduled for release in autumn 2012.
Walt Disney Studios International Production made several Chinese-language films – The Secret Of The Magic Gourd, High School Musical and Trail Of The Panda – and Disney bought out John Chu’s digital effects company Centro Motion Pictures in Hong Kong.
In March Reed revealed on a panel at Cinema-Con that the Arab Spring wave of regional unrest had forced Disney to postpone a $1m football drama about a pan-Arabian team of child footballers.
Reed also said at the time that his unit had been gearing up for a push into Spanish-language territories that would encompass Mexico and Argentina.
Earlier this year both Warner Bros and Paramount shut down their international acquisitions units, while it emerged in July that Christian Grass had exited his post as president of Universal Pictures International productions and acquisitions.
Fox International Productions and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions remain vibrant.