Imagi Halts Production on Astro Boy

Astro Boy

Rumors start making their way around the Internet last night, on websites like FirstShowing.net and the Animation Guild blog, that the LA animation studio Imagi was temporarily shutting down operations. As mentioned on the Brew last month, the studio has been experiencing a multitude of financial problems.

The Anime News Network has now confirmed with the president of Imagi, Erin Corbett, that only the animators of Astro Boy have been asked to stop coming to work, while the rest of the staff continues to develop other projects such as Gatchaman and Tusker. Additionally, nobody is working at Imagi’s Hong Kong facilities this week though they say that was already planned because of Chinese New Year’s holidays. Most of the studio’s animation staff is in Hong Kong so it is unclear how many artists were asked to stop coming to work at its LA branch. The studio expects more funding to come through this week so that everybody can return to work soon. The uncertainty about the studio’s future isn’t helped by the fact that their website has been taken down completely at the time of this writing.

UPDATE: Kevin Koch, president of the Animation Guild, posted in our comments with new information that says ALL of the artists at LA’s Imagi’s office have been told not to come to work this week. The studio’s president Corbett had previously told Anime News Network that only the “animation team” had been asked not to report to work. Here is the full text of Koch’s comment:

The Animation Guild office has received confirmation that everyone at Imagi in Los Angeles was told not to come in to work this week. The office also got a call from Imagi US president Erin Corbett, who told us that Imagi is in a “holding pattern” until Feb. 3, when they will find out about the next round of funding.

This looks like it could be a temporary hiccup, or a very bad thing. We’re holding our breath and hoping it is sorted out quickly.


  • Mishi

    welcome to the new new world order economy!!!

    Off now, start looking for another way to make a living ’cause,
    can’t eat animation.

    I’ve been in the animation / illustration / design business since a while and, this are bad times for everyone.

    Good luck and pray.

  • Al

    I’m rooting for Imagi! What this studio is able to accomplished for TMNT on a budget that dwarfs the big boys in the animation industry while maintaining a high quality of work is truly commendable. The team of animators is much deserving of praise and success.

    The thing I really admired about Imagi is its willingness to go against the norm and take risks while other studios are still struck in the typical lighthearted “cartoony” mode. Imagi offers edginess, cool stylized action and content that appeals to the mature audience. Other studios as of late in the pass few years has pigeonholed the medium to a squeaky clean genre.

    For their efforts and their willingness to think out the box, I really hope Imagi gets rewarded and continued to develop and produce more projects in the future.

  • Uncle Phil

    IMAGI hired 100+ LA staff, operated a 300+ animation team in a Hong Kong skyrise, and licensed established anime properties while betting heavily on the antiquated Hollywood financing/distribution model… HOW EXACTLY IS THIS THINKING OUT OF THE BOX?

    IMAGI should go back to making fake Christmas trees and use that steady revenue to support their so-called “edgy-films-for-the-masses.”

    It’s a shame to see artists lose their jobs due to a combination of bad leadership and a bad economy.

  • Chris J

    Yeah, you can kind of tell that the guys at Imagi are just itching to drop the youthfully oriented stuff and make their own Akira, can’t you?

    I would love that (although maybe not as endlessly morose as Akira), but the question is whether an American audience is ready for it. Anyone remember “The Spirits Within?”

    I wish all the best for Imagi. Hey, how about an IPO? I’d send $100 their way for a few shares . . .

  • Robert DeJoy

    Couldn’t our current administration sneak in a couple bucks for LA animation studio Imagi in their proposed economic stimulus package. :)

  • http://philrynda.blogspot.com Uncle Phil (Rynda)

    I just wanted to say that the above comment wasn’t me. I have no knowledge of the Imagi business model. I have some friends at Imagi, and I wish them all the best. I was really looking forward to Astroboy, and I hope that everything on the business end can get worked out so that the artists can keep going.

    And I own a fake Christmas Tree.

  • http://chippyandloopus.com John S

    Only animators have stopped coming to work?
    REally?
    Then why did ALL of the Imagi artists and production staff including those working on Tusker and Gatcha man recieve phone calls on Saturday telling them not to come to work on Monday?
    I smell a spin!!!!
    Or an outright lie.

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com Tony Mines

    There is so much mixed information about this. Didn’t they already make an open press release about a month ago, that ALL production including Gatchaman had already stopped – and that essential financial backers had simply not come through with money, grinding everything to a halt. Or did I dream that?

  • http://www.animationguildblog.blogspot.com Kevin Koch

    The Animation Guild office has received confirmation that everyone at Imagi in Los Angeles was told not to come in to work this week. The office also got a call from Imagi US president Erin Corbett, who told us that Imagi is in a “holding pattern” until Feb. 3, when they will find out about the next round of funding.

    This looks like it could be a temporary hiccup, or a very bad thing. We’re holding our breath and hoping it is sorted out quickly.

  • Sam Filstrup

    Hopefully this is overcome by the studio I was both impressed and happy with TMNT. They met my hopes of my childhood muddled with Turtles figures, Tshirts, and glued to the TV when they were on TV. For a studio with so much promise its a shame to see it going through such hardship, but unfortunately we all are.

  • http://Mr.FunsBlog Floyd Norman

    The last time I received a weekend call, I headed for the studio to pick up my stuff. It was a good thing because by Monday morning, the studio doors were padlocked.

    I hope Imagi has a better fate.

  • Mishi

    OH! by the way…

    About the comment of imagi been going against the norm?!

    Once you start involving big bucks and others people’s money there is not individual spirit anymore.

    Probably they are itching to do their own Akira but honey, they should go on their own and eat crackers for a couple of years and produce. Of course the most difficult part is creating the pecking order of rank, Who directs?, Who writes?, and also it will take from all involved a lot of blood and sweat ’cause that is the only way to really do your own thing.

    It is universal knowledge of “how to make a movie”, technically, but the financial aspect is the tough part. Finding willing, talented people to work for spec is a miracle, not impossible, but tough. Who knows who? Distribution anyone?

    And also at the end for the film to make it somewhere, you will have to give up enough to “the man”, “the gatekeeper” to make it out there. Remember, even Uncle Walt went down into the deep end in a
    “nervous breakdown” ’cause even then was to difficult.

    Good Luck.

  • Joseph

    >>I wish all the best for Imagi. Hey, how about an IPO? I’d send $100 their way for a few shares . .<<

    They are already listed as an OTC. For those of you not familiar. This is a PENNY STOCK. Not a good sign.

    Imagi is history. The misinformation coming from the company is suggesting that more is happening behind the scenes than they are letting on.

    First off, they lost the bridge financing to get them to Feb 3rd. This suggests that they mismanaged their last round of funding that should of lasted them beyond Feb 3rd. Secondly, the US Imagi President is saying that she hopes that Feb 3rd is when another round will kick in. This suggests that it isn’t locked in and the original backer is having second thoughts, or they didn’t make particular goals.

    Imagi is about to go under. Mismanaged from the get go. And unlike they other mismanaged animation studios, they don’t have the capital to survive it.

    If you work there, find another job. I realize this board is frequented by animators and artists. But anyone with some business background can see this ftrain running off the tracks. I’d jump off when you get a chance.

  • KarmaRocketX

    Well, that’s one less cheap Hollywood anime bastardization that we’ll have to suffer through.

    Now if only Dragonball could be canceled as well. Nah.. I couldn’t possibly be that lucky.

    It’s impending release is like a apocalyptic plague of pure junk on the horizon that one is powerless to stop.

  • Paul R Wilson

    Well, AstroBoy’s late creator had retconned AstroBoy’s origin at least once and started out with him using atomic fuel. He even bumped AstroBoy off in a story where he got stranded back in time and finally had to be destroyed forever -so his creation could complete itself. (TWO AstroBoys at once was a no-no).
    A promising animated series was cancelled by some bozo on WPIX.