The Orphanage Shuts Down

The Orphanage

Yesterday, Stu Maschwitz, the co-founder of San Francisco-based visual fx house The Orphanage, announced on his blog that they’re “suspending operations indefinitely.” The studio, founded in 1999 by Maschwitz, Jonathan Rothbart and Scott Stewart, employed 160 people at its peak and contributed vfx work recently to Iron Man and The Spirit. If the hundred-plus comments on Maschwitz’s blog are any indication, the studio set high standards for the work it produced and was well-loved by its former employees. Its TV commercial unit is also shutting down, however, the LA-based Orphanage Animation Studio, headed by Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Lab) will continue to remain in operation. More details come from this Variety article:

OAS [Orphanage Animation Studio] and the Jim Henson Co. continue to work on “The Power of the Dark Crystal,” OAS’ first announced feature. Maschwitz told Daily Variety on Thursday that while the Orphanage Inc. had had an ownership stake in OAS, “The management of the Orphanage no longer has any ownership in Orphanage Animation Studios.” Maschwitz said that the company’s owners were unsure whether they would sell or liquidate, but “whatever we do, that money is going first to creditors,” including employees who have not yet been paid in full.

(Thanks, Karl Cohen)


  • Jerome

    ?? I thought that Tartakovsky wasn”t working on that Dark Crystal 2 anymore …

  • http://www.animationinsider.net/ Aaron H. Bynum

    Well now, that stinks.

    I wonder what the balance of ownership is now going to be, with The Orphanage now completely severed from Orphanage Animation Studios.

  • Paul N

    Bad news indeed for the San Francisco animation community.

  • http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=052C631F61EE2838 Iain

    I highly doubt “The Power of the Dark Crystal” will be done by the end of the year, no trailers or details have been coming out since Comic Con ’07 (I think it is.) Personally, I think “Power of the Dark Crystal” should be shelved cause it doesn’t need a second film with mostly CG effects to strain the power of the first film’s spetacular 80′s effects. (puppets, guys in suits, mattes, etc.)

    I also think the Henson live-action involvement that deserves a sequel is “Labyrinth”, cause with that you can explain the history of the Goblin King and the world surrounding him, and there, you can also explain why the Goblin King is nuts for babies, does he need a seed to carry on the legacy or something?

    As for The Orphanage effects studio, it’s a shame that it’s shutting down cause of the economy, even if it helped out with “Iron Man”, “The Host”, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, and a few other money-makers.

  • http://gavinscartoons.blogspot.com Gavin

    It feels great to be an graduating senior with news like this…

  • Nelson

    “Labyrinth” and “The Dark Crystal” are two titles from the classic Jim Henson era that the current Henson Company hasn’t sold off. The early tween girl audience has been devoted to those films over time, which leads to the eventual making of sequels. Any sequels will need to be at least as good as the originals, however.

  • EatRune

    AWW BUMMER!

    That’s EXACTLY what I thought (barely said out loud) when I saw this article.

    *sigh* I miss Genndy Tartakovsky’s work so much and really want to see him do more television or movie work.

    We need other major animation studios that produce cartoons that don’t suck. Japan has Madhouse, Ghibli, Kyoto Animation and we have . . . Pixar.

  • Gobo

    Last I heard, “Power of the Dark Crystal” was going to be handled by Australia’s Omnilab rather than OAS.