After a summer spent as a meme and a cautionary tale, Sonic the Hedgehog showed off his new look last month in a trailer for Paramount Pictures’ upcoming video game adaptation. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with fans gushing over Sonic’s new design and praising the film for listening to the criticism. Well, no good deed goes unpunished I suppose because the studio behind Sonic the Hedgehog’s redesign is closing.
The visual effects company Moving Picture Company (MPC) has apparently shut down its studio in Vancouver, Canada effective immediately according to Cartoon Brew, who first reported on the closure. MPC Vancouver once employed over 800 visual effects workers although its current staff was much smaller. Those who still worked at MPC in Vancouver were allegedly told of the shutdown in a meeting earlier this week.
A source told the Los Angeles Times that approximately 80 employees would be immediately affected by the closure of the Vancouver studio. The Motion Picture Company told the affected employees who are now out of a job that they would have the opportunity join MPC or other arms of the company in one of the business’s other locations.
MPC Vancouver recently worked on the highly publicized and seemingly successful redesign of the titular character for Paramount Pictures’ Sonic the Hedgehog. The Blue Blur’s redesign isn’t all that the studio was responsible for though. The studio also made major contributions to Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and Detective Pikachu as well as helping out with Cats and its much-discussed CGI.
The Moving Picture Company, which is owned by Technicolor and has branches in Montreal, Adelaide, Paris, Toronto and Los Angeles, is also responsible for the visual effects work on The Lion King (2019), The Jungle Book, Blade Runner 2049, Justice League, Life of Pi and Guardians of the Galaxy to name a few.
So why did a studio with so much work on its plate and such a track record shut down one of its locations apparently without warning? Well, a statement from parent company Technicolor cited “increasing external market pressures” in Vancouver as well as “attractive opportunities in other locations” as the reason behind the shuttering of MPC Vancouver.
The statement also noted that the company plans to continue to grow the studios of its various VFX brands in other cities around the world as well as putting down roots in London and Berlin.
As noted by the LA Times, the razor-thin margins in the VFX industry and market conditions have created an environment where special effects companies have left California and are chasing tax incentives wherever they can find them. Essentially, it sounds like the MPC’s Vancouver studio was shuttered because Vancouver no longer offers enough financial benefit and the company can get a better deal elsewhere.
Sonic the Hedgehog races into theaters on February 14, 2020. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to keep track of all of next year’s biggest movies.