It’s bad enough that Happy Feet Two went over budget by $50 million. Or that my sources say Warner Bros plugged it figuring the sequel to the smash-hit 2006 Best Animation Oscar winner would be another big earner. But it’s not. The holiday pic is tanking. Now comes even worse Christmas news. According to an online article today in IF magazine, the Australian digital production company behind Happy Feet Two is laying off 600 staffers in early December. Sydney-based Dr D Studios is the 2007 joint venture between filmmaker George Miller’s and producer Doug Mitchell’s Kennedy Miller Mitchell, which is Australia’s most successful production company, in partnership with The Mapp family’s Omnilab Media Group, which is Australia’s largest film services company. Dr D Studios was intended to rival Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital in New Zealand as a home for high-end effects and digital feature film production. The IF article says some employees were also offered positions at a new company that KMM plans to set up early next year. Now, a retrenchment like this usually follows the end of a big-budget film like Happy Feet Two, and KMM’s Doug Mitchell recently said the business was restructuring as it faced a production gap before the Dr D’s next production, the 4th Mad Max film titled Fury Road.

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