Australian-produced computer-animated dancing penguin sequel Happy Feet 2 has bombed at the global box office, with almost 600 Australian jobs lost as a result.
Happy Feet 2 is out in Australia on Boxing Day, but its wider release in the US and various European and Asian countries over the past fortnight has garnered poor box-office results, taking an estimated US$30.3 million, up against an estimated budget of US$140 million.
The 2006 original was made on a budget of US$100 million and took US$384.3 million worldwide.
Not even its A-list Hollywood voice cast, including Robin Williams, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Pink, could attract punters away from big box-office hits like The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and The Muppets.
Inside Film reports that 600 of the 700 employees of Dr D Studios, based in Sydney, were told they'd be laid off in the coming weeks. Many of the staff were on contracts that were to expire after the film was completed, but it's reported that a number of senior staff have also left upon the restructure.
It's not all bad news though. Many of the employees have been offered work at a new company to launch in 2012 run by Kennedy-Miller Mitchell Films (KMM), who co-owned Dr D in partnership with Omnilab Media, a relationship that may possibly come to an end.
Happy Feet 1 and 2 director George Miller founded KMM in 1973 with producer Byron Kennedy. The fourth Mad Max film, Fury Road, is currently in pre-production under Dr D Studios.
"We obviously came in a little bit under our expectations on Happy Feet,'" Warner Bros. President of Distribution Dan Fellman told TheWrap.
"The market expands enormously over the holiday. By next Monday, we'll know whether we're in good shape."