×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Kerner Optical shutters amid bankruptcy

Chapter 11 reorg faltered as models and miniatures biz shifted to other vendors

One of the most storied facilities in the history of movie f/x has closed its doors.

Kerner Optical, the San Rafael, Calif.-based models and miniatures shop that began life as the original Industrial Light & Magic, shuttered after its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization plan failed.

The ILM models and miniatures unit ushered in the modern era of effects-driven tentpoles. It grew from the team assembled for the original “Star Wars” and moved with George Lucas to the Bay Area. But digital effects came to dominate the industry, and by the middle of the last decade there wasn’t enough work for the models and miniatures unit from ILM alone to keep it afloat.

Lucasfilm sold it to model maker Mark Anderson in 2006, freeing it to work with other vfx companies. But CEO Eric Edmeades, who acquired a controlling interest in 2009, said Kerner Optical had lost around a million dollars a year since it was spun off.

Edmeades told employees last week in an email that with the support of ILM, which had remained Kerner Optical’s biggest customer, management had tried to reorganize under Chapter 11 earlier this year.

However, one creditor objected to the reorg plan and leveled allegations of mismanagement. That was enough to force ILM to award a contract to New Deal Studios instead of Kerner for the first time. That sunk the plan.

Kerner’s other companies remain open for business, Edmeades told Variety. Its Kernercam 3D camera rig business will be hurt, as the sfx division was a client, but will continue. Kerner Pictures, the production division that hoped to create a slate of 3D films, is alive but will also be hurt by the closing of the f/x division.

The Kernerworks “skunk works” company, which makes a realistic training dummy for trauma training, will also remain open.

Edmeades also said Kerner’s research and development division continues to undertake work for military and intelligence contractors.

More Film

  • Will Smith Jada Pinkett Smith

    AFI, Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation Launch Second Young Women in Film Intensive

    The AFI Conservatory and the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation have partnered to launch the second annual Young Women in Film Intensive. The AFI Campus in Los Angeles will host 45 high school girls for an eight-week filmmaking workshop, where students will receive mentorship from current fellows and working professional alumni of the AFI [...]

  • Paul Davidson

    The Orchard Head Content Executive Paul Davidson Steps Down

    At the finish line of its sale to 1091 Media, distributor the Orchard’s film and TV head Paul Davidson is parting ways with the company. In an amicable split, the creative executive addressed staff in person and in a company-wide memo on Tuesday in New York City to inform them of his decision. “While I [...]

  • Ava DuVernay Toby Emmerich Michael Douglas

    Ava DuVernay, Toby Emmerich, Michael Douglas to Speak at Produced By Conference

    Ava DuVernay, Toby Emmerich, and Michael Douglas will speak at the Producers Guild of America’s 11th Produced By Conference. The event will be held on June 8-9 at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif. Other notable speakers include Netflix executive Cindy Holland; Blumhouse producer Marci Wiseman; “Homecoming” showrunners Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz; Entertainment One [...]

  • Jean Francois Helene Etzi

    Disney's French Chief Jean-Francois Camilleri Exiting, Helene Etzi Upped

    Jean-Francois Camilleri is leaving Disney after more than 30 years and will replaced as the head of its French operation by Helene Etzi. Sources said Camilleri’s departure was his own decision. He announced his exit on Twitter, Tuesday, and paid tribute to his team and colleagues at Disney, thanking them for the “unique adventure.” In [...]

  • dumbo Tim Burton

    Film Review: Tim Burton's 'Dumbo'

    The key image in Walt Disney’s 1941 “Dumbo” is something out of a fairy-tale daydream: Dumbo, the baby elephant with long-lashed goo-goo eyes, a cuddly grin, and ears as long and floppy as wings, flapping those ears to soar around a circus big top, flying over the crowds with a freedom as touching as it [...]

  • Guys and Dolls

    'Guys and Dolls' Getting Remade at TriStar (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Guys and Dolls,” the venerable Broadway musical, is set to return to the big screen. TriStar Pictures has purchased remake rights to the original Damon Runyon short stories about gamblers and gangsters that inspired the shows, as well as the rights to the Broadway musical with its book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content