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600 “Happy Feet Two” workers given walking papers

Happy Feet Two

Happy Feet Two

Some 600 of the 700 employees at the digital production studio behind the Warner Bros. flop Happy Feet Two have been given layoff notices, according to an Australian film and TV industry site.

Workers at Dr. D Studios, based in Sydney, Australia, have been told they will be laid off in the coming weeks, IF.com.au said. The studio could not be reached for comment.

The original Happy Feet (2006) won an Oscar and grossed $384.3 million from a $100 million budget. But as of Thursday, the sequel had made just an estimated $30.3 million worldwide.

Happy Feet Two opened November 18 in 3,606 theaters. Budgeted at an estimated $140 million, it came in second at the box office on its debut weekend, grossing $21.2 million.

“We obviously came in a little bit under our expectations on Happy Feet,” said Warner Bros. president of distribution Dan Fellman. “The market expands enormously over the holiday. By next Monday, we’ll know whether we’re in good shape.”

Reportedly, some Dr. D. employees have been offered a job at a new company that Kennedy-Miller Mitchell Films, which launched Dr. D as a joint partnership with Omnilab Media, plans to launch early next year. Happy Feet director George Miller co-founded KMM in 1973 with producer Byron Kennedy.

Dr. D Studios’ Web site displays an out-of-date notice that Happy Feet Two is in production. No job openings are listed on the site.