Cirque du Soleil, which produces 44 shows around the world...including the upcoming Drawn to Life in Disney Springs, has filed for bankruptcy protection. A move which will reduce the company's debt load, making it more attractive to investors.
The Canadian company announced today that it is seeking debt restructuring under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). The filing said that the move was "in response to immense disruption and forced show closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic."
Cirque shut down all of its shows back in March, furloughing 95% of its employees. Today, 3,480 of those employees were terminated, which the company says lets them "maximize and accelerate the financial compensation" they should be receiving through their local unemployment assistance programs.
Along with the attempt to reduce debt via the CCAA, the company set up what's called a "stalking horse" purchase agreement, paving the way for investors to purchase the company at a reduced price. Current Cirque CEO Daniel Lamarre said the company will return stronger, but any transition likely won't happen until the fall.
Lamarre said in a statement:
The robust commitment from the sponsors - which includes additional funds to support our impacted employees, contractors and critical partners, all of whom are important to Cirque's return - reflects our mutual belief in the power and long-term potential of our brand. I look forward to rebuilding our operations and coming together to once again create the magic spectacle that is Cirque du Soleil for our millions of fans worldwide.
Despite today's announcement, Cirque spokesperson Melanie Fontaine told the Orlando Sentinel that, while no official opening date has been set, Drawn to Life could premier this fall, barring any government restrictions. Cast and employees for that show are still on temporary leave "to ensure a swift and efficient return as soon as the ban on gatherings is lifted and show operations can resume."
Drawn to Life had been scheduled to premiere back in April.