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.”
Imageworks is the studio that produces the animation for Sony Pictures Animation (SPA) films, including the upcoming Hotel Transylvania 2 and the all-CG Smurfs movie. They also make non-SPA animated films like Rovio’s Angry Birds, and provide vfx on live-action films such as the recent Amazing Spider-Man 2, and the forthcoming pics Guardians of the Galaxy (Disney/Marvel) and Pixels (Columbia).
The new Vancouver studio will be located in the Pacific Centre shopping mall, directly above a Nordstrom department store. Expected to be fully operational by 2015, the studio will have the capacity to house 700 employees. There is no word on what’ll happen to the approximately 270 Imageworks employees who currently work in Los Angeles, or whether they will be invited to relocate to Canada. Sony Pictures Animation’s development and pre-production teams, which number well over 100 employees, will remain in Los Angeles.