"The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run" "The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run"

Having shed its post-production unit — including the color-grading business that gave the company its name — Technicolor is restructuring itself around its animation and vfx services.

What has happened? Technicolor has consolidated its visual effects and animation studios into a new division, Technicolor Creative Studios. The move comes as the Paris-based conglomerate abandons its legacy post-production business (which it has just sold to Streamland Media) and doubles down on vfx and cg animation.

Which studios does it own? Some of the most prominent in Hollywood filmmaking: MPC (features, series, commercials); The Mill (commercials); Mr. X (feature and episodic vfx); and Mikros Animation (features). Recent projects include 1917, Ad Astra, The Lion King, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run Lady and the Tramp, The Call of the Wild, Dolittle, and The Mandalorian. The studios, which have offices across the world, will retain their brands and market positions under the new division.

Who is leading the division? Christian Roberton has been appointed president. He spent almost two decades at MPC, where he ended up serving as managing director of film. Prior to that, he worked in 2d animation in London, becoming company manager at Uli Meyer Studios.

Why is Technicolor doing this? The change heralds a big step up in the scale of the business. Roberton tells The Hollywood Reporter that the vfx and animation units could go from 8,000 to 11,000–12,000 employees in the next year. He anticipates 700–800 new animation hires in that time. The studios will “share technology, talent, and workflow.”

What does that mean for animation output? Roberton says the company is looking to potentially double the size its feature animation business, from around three to six projects on the go at any one time. Current projects at Mikros, which is based in Montreal and Paris, include Spin Master’s Paw Patrol: The Movie and Paramount’s The Tiger’s Apprentice. It also worked on Paramount+’s The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run (image at top).

Key here is the presence of Andrea Miloro, the new president of Mikros. She has plenty of experience in feature animation, having most recently served as co-president of Fox Animation, where she had oversight of the now-shuttered Blue Sky. Roberton stresses that she has “a wealth of knowledge and some great connections to talent that were at Blue Sky.”

Is Technicolor focused on service work? For now, yes. Roberton cites the demand from streaming platforms as the main driver of the growth to come. But he adds: “Of course there are often conversations about developing our own material and bringing directors in-house. So not now, but that definitely doesn’t rule it out in the future.”

Why does this matter? Technicolor is a century-old brand that has reinvented itself after a rocky few years. It is far from the only company capitalizing on the growing demand for animation and vfx, but it has greater scale, experience, and clout than most. Roberton is suggesting that his division is positioned to fill the gap in feature animation created by the closure of Blue Sky (which was located in North America’s eastern part, as Mikros is).

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