Cartoon Network Studios is not shutting down, says Warner Bros.

On Wednesday, Warner Bros. TV Group laid off 82 staffers throughout scripted, unscripted, and animation divisions, a Warner Bros. consultant confirmed to Polygon. The firm will depart 43 of the presently unfilled positions empty. While the three model labels Warner Bros. Animation (WBA), Cartoon Network Studios (CNS), and Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe will stay distinct, WBA and CNS improvement and manufacturing groups shall be introduced beneath one division.

According to Deadline, Warner Bros. has additionally stepped again on its preliminary determination to shutter the Warner Bros. Television Workshop, which was designed to foster new expertise and supply a pipeline that many within the animation business have cited as invaluable in serving to marginalized creators break right into a extremely aggressive subject. The workshop shall be moved to Discovery’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion unit.

These adjustments at Cartoon Network Studios come at a time when a few of its cartoons have already turn into more durable to trace down and watch. The cuts additionally arrive on the heels of Discovery’s acquisition of Warner Media from AT&T. HBO Max and Discovery Plus are set to turn into one streaming service in 2023. After taking on in April, CEO David Zaslav, who beforehand ran Discovery, pledged to chop $3 billion from the corporate, and he’s taken an aggressive strategy to get there.

Zaslav has made good on the promise, and primarily within the space of style leisure. In August, Discovery laid off 14% of HBO Max employees and canceled the Batgirl film. Later that month, beloved cartoons had been yanked from HBO Max, blindsiding the cartoons’ creators. Dozens of Sesame Street episodes had been taken off of the streaming platform, and different exhibits had been completely eliminated — together with fan favourite OK Ok.O.! – Let’s Be Heroes, in addition to Infinity Train, which ran for 4 seasons and is now not airing on Cartoon Network. (It can fortunately nonetheless be discovered on different streaming companies.) Other exhibits like Summer Camp Island and Victor and Valentino nonetheless air on Cartoon Network, even for those who can’t discover them on HBO’s streaming service.

According to Variety, “output will remain the same,” following WNA and CNS consolidating — however the response from animation business denizens and pundits has not been as optimistic. Cartoon Brew declared the studio “gone,” which impressed pushback from a Cartoon Network staffer. Polygon spoke to a Warner Bros. consultant who mentioned that CNS is not disappearing and that it nonetheless has many initiatives in improvement. The actual query is how this joint division will set its priorities, which kind of relies on what viewers truly watch and what the corporate deems worthwhile.

Mostly, digging into every respective animation studios’ again catalog heightens the variations between the 2 through the years — a distinction many people who grew up watching and obsessing over Cartoon Network’s varied cartoon blocks may simply establish, even earlier than the consolidation and layoffs. It’s onerous to understand how these two studios will come collectively, particularly after these layoffs have left so many gifted staff jobless.


Warner Bros. Animation (WBA) created some actual gems, particularly within the Fifties-Nineteen Sixties, together with Tom & Jerry, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, and naturally, Looney Tunes. But through the years, WBA has hewed to this acquainted components, kind of rehashing and rehashing its basic IPs and airing them on Cartoon Network. As a child I tuned in to look at variations of Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes, and Tom & Jerry. As an grownup I can nonetheless watch these equivalent characters — and not simply by reruns.

While Warner Bros. Animation’s imprint feels emblematic of the previous, Cartoon Network Studios has produced important and ground-breaking exhibits over the course of time which have additionally stood the check of time. Yes, there are reboots, notably of Cartoon Network’s extremely well-liked late ‘90s and early 2000s series, like Powerpuff Girls and numerous iterations of Ben 10. But there are also bangers and plenty of paradigm-shifting programming, from shows that cemented the all-girl action team (Powerpuff Girls, of course), to shows that took cues from anime, like Samurai Jack. And that’s not to say Cartoon Network’s Toonami block, which launched quite a few children within the U.S. to anime earlier than it captivated a Western viewers — and which aired Pokémon for a few years.

bubblegum and marceline curled up together in bed, leaning into each other. they are holding cups of tea

Image: Cartoon Network

CNS was additionally considered one of few main animation studios to highlight queer characters within the 2010s — particularly sapphic romances — laying the groundwork for different animated exhibits. Adventure Time, which debuted in 2010 and ran for 10 seasons, was solely not too long ago capable of repay the “Bubbline” romance that sparked between Princess Bubblegum and Marceline; the 2 flirtatiously met in 2011’s “Go With Me.” Princess Bubblegum later sleeps in Marceline’s shirt, and the present’s 2018 finale seals the cope with a kiss. 2013’s Steven Universe would go on to turn into one of the vital beloved and influential up to date queer cartoons with a solid of non-binary Crystal Gems, quite a few homosexual characters, and an exquisite wedding ceremony episode.

The regular trickle of LGBTQ+ animated tv that may now be discovered throughout streaming companies owes a lot to those Cartoon Network Studio titans. Warner Bros.’ personal Velma is a lesbian! This would have been unthinkable years in the past, whilst Hayley Kiyoko (referred to as “Lesbian Jesus” by her followers) portrayed her within the made-for-television movies that aired in 2009 and 2010.

Though CNS does nonetheless exist after this consolidation, layoffs nonetheless have very actual penalties. According to The Daily Beast, a lot of the HBO Max executives laid off in August had been individuals of coloration. Former Warner Bros. staff purported to The Daily Beast on the time that this was due an ideological shift, with content material steered in direction of a much less numerous and extra “Middle America” viewers. Now we’re seeing adjustments at an animation studio recognized for forward-thinking programming. How WBA and CNS will work collectively is an open query – in addition to whether or not unforgettable, envelope-pushing cartoons will stay a precedence at a conglomerate with a philosophy constructed on actuality leisure.

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