In ‘major review,’ Cirque lops 400 jobs, most in Montreal headquarters

The red carpet grand opening of Cirque du Soleil’s “Zarkana” at Aria on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012.
Photo: Tom Donoghue/

An Up-Close Look at 'Zarkana' at Aria

A layoff of 400 employees by Cirque du Soleil, a move announced today by the company, is centered mostly on its headquarters in Montreal and is not expected to change the staging of its seven shows currently in production in Las Vegas. The new Michael Jackson show set to open this year at Mandalay Bay also is going forward as scheduled, a company spokeswoman said today.

The first round of layoffs is to take place by the end of the month and run through March. The cuts represent 9 percent of the company's total workforce. The layoffs come even as Cirque is coming off its highest ticket-selling year ever: In 2012, the company sold 14.2 million seats worldwide and took in nearly $1 billion in revenue. High production costs abound among its 19 shows -- seven of which are staged on the Strip.

Cirque spokeswoman Renée-Claude Ménard told the Canadian Broadcast Company that the strength of the Canadian dollar recently cut into Cirque's profits. Ninety-nine percent of the company's profits are drawn from countries outside Canada.

"The strength of the Canadian dollar has an impact of approximately $3 million on our profitability," she said, and in a separate statement said the majority of the jobs affected are at Cirque headquarters in Montreal.

Even so, the company has persevered in difficult financial times across the globe. Menard used a magic metaphor to make that point.

"Basically, we're very lucky that within a very difficult financial and economic situation worldwide that we're still pulling the rabbit out of the hat," she said.

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