Disney fires Robert Zemeckis and Company

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Disney fires Robert Zemeckis and Company 1

Walt Disney Studios pulled the plug on Robert Zemeckis’s motion-capture company on Friday, the latest in a string of cost-cutting moves. ImageMovers Digital, which is based near San Francisco and employs 450 people, will slowly wind down production over the next few months.

In some ways, the ghost of Christmas past paid Mr. Zemeckis a visit. His hugely expensive “A Christmas Carol” was a big disappointment for Disney, especially considering how much promotional muscle the studio put behind it. And despite his pioneering work in motion-capture technology, Mr. Zemeckis has been leapfrogged in the genre by James Cameron and “Avatar.”

But Disney went out of its way to note that two big movie projects from Mr. Zemeckis, the comedy “Mars Needs Moms” and a remake of “Yellow Submarine,” would move ahead. Disney also said it hopes to enter into a new long-term production deal with the director and his partners, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey.

Disney and Mr. Zemeckis, an Oscar winner for “Forrest Gump,” announced the creation of the boutique studio in 2007. The lush deal was approved by Dick Cook, who was fired as chairman last fall. At the time, Mr. Cook said Mr. Zemeckis had “a real pulse on the future of motion pictures especially as it pertains to the creativity and technology of motion capture and 3-D film experiences.”

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Disney fires Robert Zemeckis and Company 2

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