With Robert Zemeckis' biggest Disney ally gone, former Chairman Dick Cook, and amid drastic cost-cutting by the new management team -- and being overshadowed by AVATAR -- Walt Disney Studios is closing the producer-director's ImageMovers Digital studio in San Rafael, by Jan. 2011.
ImageMovers Digital, which opened in 2007, employs around 450 in two converted aircraft hangers on 120,000 square feet on the former Air Force base.
Zemeckis' initial performance capture/3-D feature for Disney, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, underperformed last holiday season, and ImageMovers will phase out operations after completing MARS NEEDS MOMS, directed by Simon Wells, which is planned for a March 2011 release.
"Bob and the entire IMD team successfully built a state-of-the-art studio and produced an amazing film, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, at a time when the dynamics of the industry are rapidly changing," said Disney Studios President Alan Bergman in a statement. "But, given today's economic realities, we need to find alternative ways to bring creative content to audiences, and IMD no longer fits into our business model."
However, the fate of Zemeckis' proposed performance capture/3-D YELLOW SUBMARINE is still up in the air, as Disney hopes to sign a new long term production deal with the director and his producing partners, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey.