Imageworks Moving More of Its Workforce to Incentive-Friendly Vancouver

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 poster -  P 2014

Sony Pictures Imageworks -- headquartered in Culver City with additional facilities in Chennai, India, and incentive-friendly Vancouver -- held a staff meeting Tuesday afternoon signaling that it intends to move even more of its workforce to Vancouver, while leaving jitters surrounding the potential for layoffs.

"Sony Pictures Imageworks is focused on maintaining an organization that delivers high-quality work while being responsive to our client's needs," read a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter by company spokesperson Charles Sipkins. "As part of this process, we are transitioning a percentage of our technology teams to our Vancouver, B.C., studio in order to provide greater support to our artist community and remain cost competitive. Sony Pictures Imageworks is committed to our headquarters in Los Angeles and we have a healthy slate of projects through 2014, including Columbia Pictures' The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Warner Bros.' Edge of Tomorrow."

Imageworks has been the lead VFX house on all of the Spider-Man franchise films from Sony. Work this past year included Oz the Great and Powerful. The animation arm produced Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 and The Smurfs 2.

Tuesday's announcement is the latest move underscoring uncertainty in the VFX community. Many will remember that on the day of last year's Oscar ceremony, roughly 500 participated in a rally on Hollywood Boulevard to raise awareness of the troubled business. Already, a "March in March" Facebook page has been created for organizing another rally during the upcoming Oscars "to bring awareness and show support for our effort to levy duties against VFX subsidies."

Specifically, in an effort to create an even-paying field, U.S.-based members of the VFX community are working on a plan to ask the U.S. government to impose Countervailing Duties (CVD) on VFX shots. A CVD would mean that if a foreign government unfairly subsidizes goods or services, then the U.S. could slap a duty (i.e., an import tax) on the goods in a countervailing amount (i.e., an equal and opposite amount), so that the buyer in the U.S. ends up paying market price, rather than the subsidized price.

In recent years, generous tax rebates have prompted VFX companies including Imageworks, Digital Domain and MPC to open offices in Vancouver.

Like British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec also offer rebates. On Tuesday, London-headquartered VFX house Cinsite launched a new facility in Montreal.


Twitter: @CGinLA