×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sony Imageworks Moving HQ to Vancouver

Los Angeles's last major vfx studio to depart immediately

For months, as Sony has sought to slash its studio budget, there has been speculation that the Sony Pictures would sell or shut down its Imageworks visual effects and animation company.

But late Thursday came a different announcement: Sony Pictures Imageworks is moving its headquarters from Culver City to a new facility in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The move, confirmed by Sony, parallels that of Digital Domain, which moved vfx production from Los Angeles to Vancouver some time ago. With the addition of these moves to the bankruptcy of Rhythm & Hues Studios, the feature film visual effects industry in Los Angeles is in full collapse.

Imageworks spokesman Steven Argula told Variety that Sony is committed to keeping Imageworks open and a part of Sony.

“Sony’s investment in this move shows their commitment to Imageworks — not just for animation but for live-action vfx,” said Argula.

The new Imageworks facility in Vancouver’s Pacific Centre neighborhood will have capacity for up to 700 staff, twice as many as Imageworks employed in Vancouver during its peak of production on “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Only a small office will remain in Los Angeles to work with Los Angeles-based clients. Usually such facilities are staffed with sales reps and primarily provide a place for clients to conduct shot reviews via teleconference with artists elsewhere.

Imageworks currently employs around 270 people in Culver City. It is not clear how many of them will be offered the chance to relocate, and how many might take it if offered. But any vfx artists who choose to remain in Southern California will find their options limited.

Though a few feature-oriented companies remain — notably Hydraulx and its sister company, Lola, and smaller studios including Luma Pictures — the talent pool in L.A. is likely to shrink, making staffing more difficult for those companies.

Sony’s statements that it was “committed to” its L.A. headquarters were always transparently disingenuous. A move to Vancouver was inevitable in the current economic environment unless Sony shed itself of Imageworks entirely.

Daniel Lay, the “VFX Soldier” blogger who is helping lead the campaign to set up tariffs to counter foreign production subsidies, emaiIed Variety to say “Imageworks’ move to Vancouver isn’t surprising given that many workers have been given ultimatums over the years to move because BC taxpayers are paying almost 60% of resident salaries.

“However as we learned with Imageworks New Mexico, subsidies don’t last and some other government will offer more. All this does is lead to a continued cycle of displacement for everyone who works in the industry and this is why many of us are leaving.”

Imageworks closed its New Mexico branch after subsidies there were scaled back. Another Imageworks branch, in India, was set up to take advantage of lower labor costs, but it too was closed.

Imageworks picked an auspicious moment for the announcement: After having no films in the crowded summer of 2013, Imageworks had “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” this year and worked on the upcoming Tom Cruise starrer “Edge of Tomorrow.” Its upcoming slate includes Disney/Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy”; “Pixels” for Columbia Pictures;  the “Angry Birds” movie; and for Sony Pictures Animation, “Hotel Transylvania 2” and the next, still-untitled Smurfs movie.

British Columbia native Jason Dowdeswell remains as head of Imageworks’ Vancouver operations, with the title VP of production operations. The company has added Mark Breakspear as vfx supervisor and Shauna Bryan as VP, new business and production executive. Both were most recently at Method Studios in Vancouver.

More Biz

  • David Lubliner Moves to UTA From

    Veteran WME Agent David Lubliner to Join UTA

    William Morris Endeavor agent David Lubliner is departing the company for a post at United Talent Agency, individuals familiar with the move told Variety. The parting of ways was amicable, the insiders added. Lubliner was a veteran in WME’s motion picture literary department. Rumors of his exit had been floating since Hollywood reopened for the new [...]

  • Bruce Tufeld Dead: Hollywood Agent and

    Hollywood Agent and Manager Bruce Tufeld Dies at 66

    Bruce Tufeld, a Hollywood agent and manager who once repped stars like Rob Lowe, Laura Dern, and Kelsey Grammer, died Tuesday in Los Angeles as a result of complications from liver cancer. He was 66. The son of respected television announcer Richard “Dick” Tufeld and Adrienne Tufeld, Bruce began his career as an assistant at ICM [...]

  • R Kelly protest

    Protesters Rally Outside Sony Music Headquarters, Demand the Company Drop R. Kelly

    Standing in the cold with megaphones outside of Sony Music’s New York headquarters, a group of activists delivered the company, parent of Kelly’s longtime label RCA, a petition signed by over 217,000 people demanding that the singer be dropped from the label. The rally comes less than a week after a plane carrying a banner [...]

  • Robert Smith, Longtime Executive at DuArt

    Robert Smith, Longtime Executive at New York's DuArt Film Labs, Dies at 88

    Robert Smith, a longtime executive with New York’s DuArt Film Labs, died Jan. 11 in Montvale, N.J. He was 88. Smith spent some 62 years with DuArt, the film processing and post-production facility founded in 1922 in the penthouse of an automobile garage in Midtown. Smith rose to president of DuArt before retiring in 2015. [...]

  • Fake Washington Post

    Fake Editions of Washington Post Distributed in D.C.

    The Washington Post was forced to issue a statement on Wednesday morning after commuters were handed fake print copies of the newspaper with a headline claiming President Donald Trump had fled the White House. “There are fake print editions of The Washington Post being distributed around downtown DC, and we are aware of a website [...]

  • Stock market Stock buyback

    Stock Buybacks Leave Firms Without Funds to Invest in Future (Column)

    Corporate giants on the S&P 500 have spent more than $720 billion during the past year on stock buybacks. Media and entertainment firms account for only a fraction of that spending, but even $1 million spent on share repurchases seems a foolhardy expenditure at this transformational moment for the industry. The record level of spending [...]

  • Sinclair Enters Streaming Arena With Local

    Sinclair Enters Streaming Arena With Entertainment Bundle and Local Channels

    Sinclair Broadcast Group is diving into the increasingly crowded streaming platform arena with the launch today of Stirr, a free OTT entertainment bundle offering local news and general entertainment, sports and lifestyle channels. Sinclair aims to leverage the near-national reach of its sprawling station group with its strong local presence in markets across the country [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content