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Sony Pictures Imageworks Moves HQ to Vancouver

Visual-effects company Sony Pictures Imageworks plans to moves its Los Angeles headquarters to Vancouver.

Sony Pictures Imageworks announced late Thursday that its headquarters will relocate to Vancouver, according to a report by Deadline.

The unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment said it was transferring the bulk of its operations to a new facility in Vancouver, where it already has a satellite studio. Sony is expected to keep a small staff in its Culver City facility, which employs about 270 workers.

The decision, first reported by the Vancouver Sun, was not unexpected. The company earlier this year moved about three dozen workers to its Vancouver studio, which it opened in 2010. Imageworks, which recently completed work on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Edge of Tomorrow, employs about 150 workers in 32,000 square feet of space in Yaletown. The new 74,000-square-foot headquarters located in Vancouver’s Pacific Centre will accommodate up to 700 employees.

Imageworks representative Steven Argula reportedly said the two biggest factors behind the head office shift include Vancouver’s growing base of talented visual effects workers and provincial tax breaks designed to attract motion picture industry work. “We’re going to start referring to Vancouver as our headquarters as of now, even though we’re not in the new space yet,” he said.

SPI’s current and future projects include Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Columbia’s Pixels, the Angry Birds movie, and Sony’s Hotel Transylvania 2 and the untitled Smurfs sequel -- all of which will be spearheaded by the Vancouver team.

“The 58.4% subsidy for BC-resident VFX artists shows how unsustainable subsidies have become and how expensive it would be for states like California to compete in the ‘race to the bottom,’” said VFX activist Daniel Lay, who runs the VFX Soldier blog. “Even if California state bill AB1839 passes, it would probably do little to stem the effects of VFX runaway production to B.C. because of how much higher it is. Furthermore, B.C. is starting to lose their advantage to Quebec, which not only matches BC’s labor subsidies but provides 25% on non-labor costs also.”

To assist in the Vancouver expansion, Sony Pictures Imageworks has added Mark Breakspear as Visual Effects Supervisor and Shauna Bryan as VP New Business and Production Executive. Both are transplants from Vancouver’s Method Studios. The Vancouver operations will continue to be led by VP Production Operations Jason Dowdeswell.

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