House Special Launches in Portland

A new commercial studio, House Special, launched in Portland, Oregon last week. The company was started by Lourri Hammack, Kirk Kelly and Al Cubillas, who ran Laika’s former commercial division Laika/house.

The One Thing That Could Save DreamWorks Animation: China

At least one DreamWorks animated film has lost money for the past three years in a row: “Rise of the Guardians” in 2012 had an $87 million writedown; “Turbo” in 2013 resulted in a $13.5 million writedown; and this year’s “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” caused a $57 million writedown. This is rather obviously not a sustainable trend from a business standpoint, and investors are beginning to worry about the studio’s long-term prospects.

Sony Pictures Animation Will No Longer Animate Its Films in the US

Animation and visual effects studio Sony Pictures Imageworks has confirmed what many in the industry had suspected for a long while: the studio is moving its headquarters from Los Angeles to Vancouver, Canada to take advantage of generous tax credits provided by the Canadian government. This move, combined with Digital Domain’s jump to Vancouver and Rhythm & Hues’ bankruptcy, prompted “Variety'”s VFX chronicler David S. Cohen to say that the Los Angeles feature film visual effects industry is “in full collapse.”

‘Legends of Oz’ Investors, Who Each Paid $100,000, Believe Hollywood Conspiracy Destroyed Film [UPDATED]

Although Greg Centineo, the producer of “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return,” had hoped for a big second weekend, the film plummeted 48% this weekend and ended up with a sophomore frame of $1.9 million. The movie has struggled to find a fan following, except for the film’s Facebook page which is filled with a curiously large number of middle-aged and elderly people who absolutely adore the film.

How Will Vinton Lost His Studio to a Rapper Named Chilly Tee

Laika does amazing work as an animation studio, no doubt about it, but the studio’s history is somewhat less admirable. The company was built on top of Will Vinton’s eponymous Portland studio in a shrewd corporate takeover by multi-billionaire Nike co-founder Phil Knight. After Knight took control of the company in 2002, he placed a failed rapper named Chilly Tee with slight experience in animation, who also happened to be his son Travis Knight, in charge of the entire company.

British Studios Locksmith and Double Negative Plan To Make CG Features

There are big developments in the UK animation industry in the wake of a much-heralded tax break received by the British animation industry that went into effect last year. Sarah Smith, the former creative director of features at Aardman Animations, is setting up a studio named Locksmith Animation. She bills it as the UK’s “first high-end CGI feature animation studio,” and it is focused on creating a long-term slate of films for worldwide distribution.

Patreon Offers a New Way to Crowdfund Animation

There are countless crowdfunding sites nowadays, but none have offered a viable alternative that challenges Kickstarter and Indiegogo’s dominance. Patreon may change that though. The crowdfunding site offers a twist on the crowdfunding model that may prove attractive to filmmakers who want to produce content regularly.

First Look at $2.4 Billion Oriental DreamWorks Complex in Shanghai

Last week DreamWorks revealed the first renderings of the Dream Center, a 40-acre, $2.4 billion development in Shanghai, China. Scheduled to open in 2017 (or early-2018), the site will house the Oriental DreamWorks production studio, which is currently working on “Kung Fu Panda 3,” as well as the world’s largest IMAX screen, eight outdoor plazas, hotels, restaurants, theaters, galleries, and tourist attractions.