Sony Pictures Imageworks is transferring a portion of the staff from its Los Angeles HQ to its studio in Vancouver, B.C., according to a report by Variety. The news was delivered to staffers at a meeting at its Los Angeles headquarters on Tuesday in a cost-cutting move that reportedly has employees in both locations bracing for layoffs.
The number of jobs to be relocated is unknown at this time, but is likely to be around three dozen, mostly in software development. The company is offering relocation expenses to the affected staff but those who do not choose to relocate may likely lose their jobs.
“As part of this process, we are transitioning a percentage of our technology teams to our Vancouver, B.C. studio in order to provide greater support to our artist community and remain cost competitive,” Sony said in a statement. “Sony Pictures Imageworks is committed to our headquarters in Los Angeles and we have a healthy slate of projects through 2014 including Columbia Pictures’ The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Warner Bros.’ Edge of Tomorrow.”
Sony’s visual effects and animation studio has come under scrutiny — along with other Sony divisions — as the company seeks to trim costs by $250 million. Bain & Co. was hired in Nov. 2013 to review all of Sony Entertainment. Sony’s statement that it is “committed” to its Culver City HQ is likely an effort to assuage concerns it might move most or all of its artists to Vancouver, as Digital Domain has reportedly said it will do.
When the unit launched, Imageworks’ business plan was to keep artists busy both on animation and visual effects, with animated features filling the gap between major VFX shows. However, following the release of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2, Sony currently has no animated features in production.