Tuesday, March 23, 2010

IMAGI Animation Studios Close in HK and LA . . .

      It is with sadness that I mark the passing of a truly innovative, creative, and quality conscious film company. IMAGI Animation Studios of Hong Kong and Los Angeles has closed it's door due to financial pressures.  The consequences of the current economic downturn were exascerbated by poor ticket sales ($23 million worldwide) for their latest film Astro Boy, the film's worldwide sales were only a third of the production costs.  The news of IMAGI's demise was announced on Feb 16, 2010.

     IMAGI appeared to have a bright future, the studios had success in 2007 with TMNT, a film that played well in the US and worldwide, grossing over Worldwide: $95,608, on release.  At the time of their closure IMAGI had several films in production.    IMAGI's closure put more than 400 artists, aniators, CG workers and others out of work in Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

      The reason I mourn IMAGI's passing is because, like Walt Disney in the early days when Walt was in control, quality was a prime concern at IMAGI. Their 2007 movie TMNT was a CG triumph that raised the bar for anyone making CG movies.  Today, media companies who focus heavily on quality are rare, and with the passing of  IMAGI, they become even rarer.  IMAGI had picked up and carried the torch of Animation excellence, that Disney Studios dropped, er, um,  threw in the dust long ago, under Michael Eisner.  Now that Eisner is long gone, perhaps Disney Studios will step up and embrace the mentality for excellence that was once the hallmark of Disney Animation.

      IMAGI management says that they will continue to move toward creating new movies, using lower cost animators and production faxcilities in China, but at this time, there is no concrete plan to do so.