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VFX Firm Gravity Files for Chapter 11

The 23-employee commercials and feature film effects company is struggling with its NYC lease.

New York and Santa Monica-based Gravity has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to a report by The Wrap.

Bi-coastal Gravity has done VFX work on films such as Salt, Tower Heist and the “Got Milk?” ad campaign. The move to seek protection of the bankruptcy court was made in part to help resolve a lease dispute, according to court documents and the company’s lawyer, Paul Aloe.

“We’re confident that this company can be made profitable,” Aloe reportedly said, adding that Gravity is not far from profitability and merely needs restructuring

Gravity produces computer-generated visual effects and has 23 employees and 16 independent contractors. Its main source of business is television commercials for clients such as BMW, though it also does feature film and digital work. The company filed a bankruptcy petition in New York District Court this week under its formal corporate name, Rhinoceros Visual Effects and Design.

The company’s financial struggles reportedly came to a head in a separate dispute with its Madison Avenue landlord. An affidavit filed with the bankruptcy papers say the company no longer needed all 13,000 square feet of its office space after downsizing, and that the landlord reneged on a deal to surrender one of its floors. Presented with rent bills it can’t possibly pay, the company faces eviction if its bankruptcy is not granted.

Documents filed this week list $100,000 to $500,000 in assets, with a liquidation value of $258,000. The filings also list $1 million to $10 million in liabilities, which includes two bank loans. A hearing on Gravity’s petition is set for Thursday with statements and schedules from the company due before the court on October 1. A full Chapter 11 plan is due by January 1, 2014.

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