ESC Ent., formed by Warner Bros. in 2001 to work on THE MATRIX RELOADED and THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS and function as an in-house vfx facility, slashed its staff on Friday the 13th and is going on hiatus.
The shuttering has been imminent ever since THE MATRIX movies were completed, but ESC was able to stay afloat with work on CATWOMAN, THE LADYKILLERS and CONSTANTINE. However, after already suffering two rounds of layoffs in July totaling 247 workers, the Alameda, California, facility was forced to temporarily shut down last Friday after learning that Warner Bros. not only withdrew the coveted SUPERMAN gig but also cancelled the remaining CONSTANTINE work.
With director Bryan Singer (the X-MEN movies) replacing McG (CHARLIE'S ANGELS) last month, Warner Bros. reportedly chose former Sony Pictures Imageworks staffer Mark Stetson (CHARLIE'S ANGELS 2: FULL THROTTLE) to replace Boyd Shermis as visual effects supervisor.
According to an industry insider, bidding on SUPERMAN is still taking place among the usual vfx suspects, including Imageworks.
ESC president Tom Davila did not return phone calls to VFXWORLD. But, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, which obtained a company e-mail notifying employees of the pending layoffs, Davilas goal is to secure new work and ramp up by late fall.