Sparx closes Paris animation studio

Production to shift to Vietnam

The global economic meltdown has forced Sparx, the toon company behind the Weinstein-distribbed “Igor,” to shutter its animation studios in Paris and retreat to its base in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

The company’s Los Angeles office will remain open.

“We’ve been hit by the shockwaves of the U.S. financial crisis,” said Thomas Schober, Sparx’s head of production. “Since our industry relies heavily on private financing, the crisis has made it extremely difficult for us to get work on features.”

Sparx had been set to handle modeling, rigging, animation, texturing, writing and special effects on “Bunyan and Babe” for U.S. shingle Exodus Films, but is no longer linked to the project.

Sparx last collaborated with Exodus on Chris McKenna’s “Igor,” released in the U.S. in September.

The Gallic studio ventured into Hollywood pics hoping to emulate the business model of CGI powerhouse Pixar, which went into features in 2004 after 10 years spent animating and co-producing TV series such as “Rolie Polie Olie.”

Prior to focusing on U.S. films, Sparx did CGI effects for a number of European pics, trailers and commercials.

“Eventually we’ll be back working on big, sophisticated animated features from our Vietnam facility,” said Sparx CEO Renaud Biscarrat, pointing out that the Asian studio provided all the modeling and animation for “Igor.” “But for now, we’re going to focus on what we used to do before: commercials, TV series and videogames.”

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