Sony Notifies Government Of Pending US Layoffs


California State employment officials were sent a WARN act filing yesterday by Sony. In the US large employers are required to send employees a 60 day notice of a large layoff of facility closing. One of the addresses listed is the location of Sony Pictures Imageworks but it looks like this is for the 70 that were laid off from the recently closed interactive division which shared the same location.

Even with big layoffs in the film division at Sony, it plans to ramp up the amount of animation work because the cost of voice talent is much cheaper than live action. Just this week Sony announced a pretty large slate of animated films.

However most of that work will probably be done in Vancouver. As I mentioned on NPR and at a City Hall meeting, Imageworks once employed 1000 professionals at the Culver City location. That number dwindled down recently to around 200 with many recently given an ultimatum to move to Vancouver or be fired. As I’ve written before the reason for the need to move to Vancouver is because the government pays 60% of resident salaries there in the form of subsidies.

I will be attending the next VFX Progress Group meeting which will be held this Wednesday night in the Culver City area. I’ll give an update on our legal effort for anti-subsidy duties.

Soldier On.



28 Responses to Sony Notifies Government Of Pending US Layoffs

  1. chexmix says:

    I wonder if they will lay off executives at Imageworks….that are making $300,000-400,000 salaries? Why pay a guy $400K if all the workers are gone? Why is it… they always lay off the working class and the executives keep their jobs……

    • Andreas jablonka says:

      Because it’s the executive’s who decide who gets laid off!

    • animinsider says:

      Dear god, I wish they would.

      If I didn’t know it was just some of the most incompetent leadership in the entire industry, I’d think it was Osher & Lake’s INTENT to destroy the company. From the inside, you might think they’d hired Textor as a consultant.

      If the company is going to survive, it needs a serious overhaul in leadership.

    • chexmix says:

      What i am getting at….is everyone bitches about the tight markup……its too expensive to start a union….the margins are 3% ….i garuntee there is about $2-3 million on every job goes to like 3-5 people (executives) in every company…..

      For everytime they ask you to cut your rate by $5 or work through lunch…..or outsourcing…..or take subsidies…..someone in the company is taking off the top….and sticking it to Labor…

  2. Dave Rand says:

    “If you organize Los Angeles we’ll just have to oursource more” AMPTP …they outsourced anyway chasing subsidies so we could not get organized …but it IS “ironic” that all the jobs left behind are union jobs. I know the reasons are multi-faceted but still….never the less …here we are.

  3. Out of curiosity, have you contacted any representation in British Columbia regarding the use of tax credits here? As far as I understand, these tax incentives were meant to benefit the province in a longer term than they are being exacted in. In fact, many residents are working outside of labour code, without benefits, and under the roaming threat of redundancy. The companies which have migrated here are interpreting the law entirely to their benefit, and without the long-term interest of the public, as they were meant to be implemented.

    • Andreas Jablonka says:

      how about saveBC film?

    • animinsider says:


      The companies who’ve opened branches in BC don’t care about the region or the long-term, nor do those who’ve implemented the incentive programs. These decisions are made by individuals acting purely in their own self-interest.

      • tough says:

        not necessary, an example is MPC who signed a 10 year lease on a large building. I would say that is hardly a short term thing.

      • animinsider says:

        So it’s sort of like the lease Imageworks has on the nearly vacant Culver City building they’re planning to sublet?

        Or is it more like the 2-year lease on the apartment that I talked my landlord into letting me out of if I gave him two months rent or found someone to take it over?

        Long-term like those?

      • animinsider says:

        …not sure what part of the world you’re from, but where I’m from we lease things when we don’t want to commit to them.

      • Hahahaa says:

        actually in business we lease as it is cheaper than holding real estate as an asset. And as I understand in Imageworks it in a building owned by the mothership so are just passing back space to the other devisions. Hence why interactive moved in.

      • Hahahaa says:

        So any facility that leases is not looking at longterm correct no matter there location?

        If so then most of LA VFX facilities were in Lease buildings so you are saying they never planned on a longterm business model?

      • animinsider says:

        @hahahaa, Incorrect. Imageworks CC building is not owned by “the mothership”. It’s leased from a third party. Further, Imageworks has emptied the building out on the first floor and most of the second floor and plans to lease the empty space to completely unrelated companies.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Too Bad DD didn’t lease to own on the Rose ave. property …..after 20 years they could have owned and sold it to google for more money than their profits…..

      • animinsider says:

        @hahahaa: “So any facility that leases is not looking at longterm correct no matter there location?”

        The point is: if you’re looking at the length of a lease as a sign of their investment, you’re using the wrong metric. If a company decides to reduce their domestic workforce or relocate them out of state, the length of their lease is the very last thing they’re going to weigh that decision against.

      • vfxmafia says:

        you can’t trust ANYTHING a company does or says……

        You think you are staff?….how about you take a forced vacation because of a ramp down? … about you take a pay cut because the company went into bankruptcy?… about we hire you staff and then fire you anyway when we ramp down with all the other freelancers? How about we cut your familys healthcare? How about you move or get fired?

  4. It’s not so much an issue of film, but wilful the misuse of labour and the misappropriation of public funds.

  5. Meh says:

    And then when they get us up to Vancouver, they lay us off after every show unless you’re one of the CG sups cronies…do not do it. Do not think it will be any better up here.

  6. billgilman says:

    “Ten years ago is when we should’ve unionized… now it’s too late.” 20+ year Californian veteran in VFX. Vancouver, now is your moment. Leverage the subsidies to your own needs and protection

    • vfxmafia says:


      I hate to say….that subsidies is a union killer….it is disigned to skim corporate profits from tax dollars…AND defeat labor at the same time…..

      Unions are base on state and country laws…..when the big six move a production across state lines and borders…….workers loose rights…and can’t unionize depending on what country your in……or what state….

      I hate to say it…..but unions can’t attack International subsidies….and can’t get involved in trade laws…..(thankfully we have Daniel)

      There can’t be unionization….until…..we have permenant VFX hubs…….we can’t have stablility without the death of subsidies…..the lunch pin to labor reform…and future unionization is the CVD…..and ADAPT..

      • vfxmafia says:

        Unions are an old concept and based on state law…..and slightly archaic…..what Daniel is doing is the future of workers rights…..AND…..Union bosses get a salary from the union….its amazing that Daniel has done what he is done….and for free………………(he is basically doing 2nd fulltime professions)

  7. vfxmafia says:

    Is Imageworks doing VFX for Ghostbusters?

    • animinsider says:

      That probably depends on weather you get an A-list or a B-list director. Osher & Lake are only concerned with the numbers and the bottom line, not with attracting or retaining top talent, artistry,quality or innovation.

      As such they can only really win B-list movies where the director doesn’t have a lot of say in who they get for VFX. Otherwise I’d guess this will go to ILM.

  8. b-s says:

    I doubt it matters if it is an a list director. Has nothing to do with it and it all comes down too cost. If Sony Pictures can get it done cheaper they will go elsewhere and usually do. You would think Imageworks would get first right to the work especially when they have no VFX work. Just look at all the stuff not done at Imageworks but is Sony , Total Recal, Robocop, After Earth, Monuments Men and now shows like Goosebumps is off too MPC according to a friend over there. Just look at there history in that they do more work for Disney and Warner Brothers before Sony.

    • animinsider says:

      Super high-profile directors like JJ Abrams, Steven Spielberg, Michael Bay… these guys all have long-standing relationships with vfx supervisors at ILM and ask for them by name. They’ll work with who they want to work with and they’ll get what they want.

      Sam Raimi is the only semi-high-profile director that has a real relationship with Imageworks. Without these relationships and without retaining talent that can actually deliver and improve on existing technology and quality, Imageworks, like virtually everyone else at this stage, is just a bottom-dweller fighting for the scraps of food left behind by directors who don’t go to ILM or Weta.

      Does cost matter? Sure, but it matters a hell of a lot more for movies directed by people who don’t have a say.

  9. This is interesting… A number of class action lawsuits have been filed against systematic overtime abuse and failed promises to foreign employees: (DEnny’s) (CIBC)

    It goes without saying that any company accepting funding from the province should be upholding labour policy for the residents they employ.

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