Technicolor to Shut Down Feature Film Sound Division Amid Restructuring (Exclusive)

Technicolor Website - H - 2018

Technicolor is shutting down its feature film sound and immersive sound units by the end of the year, after honoring current commitments to clients, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The company intends fo refocus its sound resources on sound for episodic series and other streaming content. It will also concentrate its production services on VFX and color grading. “I’m looking for our growth opportunities,” Technicolor’s president of worldwide postproduction Sherri Potter tells THR, adding that the industry is experiencing its "biggest shift," driven by an "unprecedented demand for content" from services such as Netflix. 

On sound for feature films, she added, “I’m not seeing the growth. We are seeing fewer blockbuster releases and budgets starting to shrink.”

The move could cause a noticeable shift in the feature film sound landscape in Los Angeles, as Technicolor's decision will affect the entire feature film sound roster, which includes talent such as four-time Oscar-winning rerecording mixer Scott Millan and 10-time Oscar-nominated rerecording mixer Anna Behlmer, who earlier this year received the Cinema Audio Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

“They have a home through the end of the year," Potter said. She added that Technicolor is supporting all client obligations and projects while not taking on new projects, though she declined to name specific talent or films. According to IMDB, Behlmer’s current work includes Paramount’s December release Bumblebee.

The heart of the company's feature film sound operation is the Technicolor at Paramount facility on the Paramount lot. Potter intends to rededicate much of that space to color grading. That will include converting its two largest mixing stages into color grading theaters. (Technicolor will also continue to offer grading at its two additional bases in Hollywood, including the one on the Sunset Gower lot and the one on Seward Street.) The sound for episodic services (recent work includes Stranger Things) will continue to reside at the Paramount facility on Seward and at various other sites including Technicolor Toronto. The Immersive sound unit, whose projects included virtual reality and games, was housed at a smaller base in Burbank.

Meanwhile, the company has been vocal about its commitment to VFX. Last month, it rebranded the VFX services offered within Technicolor postproduction as Technicolor Visual Effects and tapped Rachel Matchett to lead the unit.

Technicolor's additional VFX brands include The Mill; Mr. X; Mikros; and MPC, which contributed Oscar-winning work to 2016's The Jungle Book and 2017's Blade Runner 2049. MPC's upcoming projects includes Dumbo and The Lion King.

On Wednesday, Technicolor announced its results for the first half of 2018, reporting revenues of €1,769 million (roughly $2,075 million), down 9.3 percent year on year. It cited “solid” 4.6 percent year-on-year growth in production services, driven by VFX.