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Toronto FX giant C.O.R.E. Digital shuts down

Rising Canadian dollar, shrinking margins blamed

TORONTO -- Toronto digital effects and animation giant C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures has closed its doors.

The studio, founded in 1994 by William Shatner, Bob Munroe, John Mariella and Kyle Menzies, gave notice to around 150 employees late Monday that it had suspended operations.

C.O.R.E. Digital, whose CGI animation production credits included Disney's "The Wild," completed work on the animated features "Ant Bully" for Warner Bros. Entertainment and Walt Disney's "Valiant," the Showtime period drama "The Tudors" and Vincenzo Natali's indie feature "Splice."

The company grew in recent years to include four divisions -- C.O.R.E. Visual Effects, C.O.R.E. Toons, C.O.R.E. Film Productions and C.O.R.E. Feature Animation -- and had a producing partnership with Los Angeles-based Radar Pictures.

Like rival Canadian FX houses, C.O.R.E. Digital fell on hard times due to the rising Canadian loonie, compared to the American dollar, and shrinking margins for work completed on film and TV projects during the economic downturn.

The Toronto F/X house also apparently failed to secure loan guarantees from the Ontario provincial government, which in the last year has directed generous subsidies to video game companies starting up locally, including Starz Animation and Ubisoft.