Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Pixar Canada Shuts Its Doors

We're just receiving this news:

Close to 100 employees at Pixar Canada’s Gastown animation studio lost their jobs Tuesday as the company decided to pack up the three-year-old operation and concentrate its operations in Emeryville, California.

“A decision was made to refocus operations and resources under the one roof,” Barb Matheson, a spokesman for Pixar parent company Disney, said from Toronto. “Staff were just told today. Not great news, obviously. It was just a refocussing of efforts and resources to the one facility.”

The article further to explains:
“As the dynamics of the animation industry continue to change rapidly, we continue to fine-tune our studio and its production processes. We have made the determination to refocus our creative and business efforts and resources under one roof.”
Much attention has been given to the market distorting effects of the entertainment subsidies offered by countries like Canada and their provinces. Could Disney be making the artistic decision to consolidate their resources in order to make a better (read: more profitable) product in a single workspace? Its a nice thought.

More likely, Disney's crack financial employees were reading the bottom line on what operating a studio in a "subsidized" space cost versus what they were getting back in return and recommended the best FINANCIAL move. Bringing operations back to Emeryville, and out of the expensive "corporate welfare" land, was the better move.

Maybe this will start a trend? It would certainly make 2014 an interesting year if it did. Our sympathies to all the artists and staff who are effected by this. We hope Disney will make your transition as smooth as possible.


Steve Hulett said...

Disney closed two Canadian studios in the 1990s. Both were affiliated with Disney Television Animation, and both opened and closed in Vancouver and Toronto within the span of a few years.

What the Mouse giveth, the Mouse taketh away.

Alex Dudley said...

Though I don't think its unio,n I read how Titmouse has opened an animation studio in Vancouver. I wonder how long that'll stay open...

Chris Sobieniak said...

Sad really.

Diablo said...

I thought 2013 was bad enough...http://gamejobwatch.com/#67


Unknown said...

I find this news VERY surprising news.

Gerard D. de Souza said...

While subsidies obviously do play a part in their decision, "expensive 'corporate welfare' land" needn't had been as expensive. As I know and have read, Pixar had a 30,000 sq ft space in an expensive part of Vancouver and only 80 employees.
As a former member of Disney's Canadian 1990s' debacle, one facet of their leaving Canada then was the scapegoating of the employees as being too expensive yet there were office spaces in the most expensive parts of Toronto and Vancouver, each animator and assistant were given individual offices, phone, $1500 chair ( I was told), desk lamps from Italy and fancy logo on the 8th floor with Mickey Mouse etched in office glass. Tweeners shared offices. I heard Toronto had Mickey Mouse shaped doorknobs! These were cool affects but we would have been just as happy working out of a warehouse in cubicles in the suburbs if it meant we could animate.
I guess I am saying if one wants to say it was too expensive, there are choices Disney could make to have made it less so. If a corporation is an individual under the law, Disney corp. as an individual is an idiot for not learning from recent history and making the same missteps twice. In fairness, acknowledge where those subsidies were pissed away.
But I suspect the pull-out has more to do with seeing that decent animation can be done in India as seen in PLanes. So beware of the spin that the work is all coming back home.
In the 90s it was originally announced that the Canadian studios would be doing "Movietoon" (Goofy Movie-Uncle Scrooge's Lamp type movies) features. The direct to video projects were to be tests for the studios. When they changed the focus from us being cheap features to one of their TV studios, we couldn't compete with Australia and Japan so they closed up. I see so many parallels it's not funny.
Subsidies are certainly something but it isn't the whole picture.

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