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VFX Studio Behind Sonic the Hedgehog Movie Shuts Down

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Moving Picture Company (MPC), the visual effects studio behind the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, has been shut down.

The report comes via Cartoon Brew, stating that MPC’s Vancouver, Canada based arm was shut down on December 11th. The text of an allegedly leaked internal letter was also found online, claiming the closure occurred due to “increasing external market pressures in Vancouver and more attractive opportunities in other locations.”

Rumors began circling the day prior on Reddit, and an alleged former employee of MPC made a (now deleted) post. Cartoon Brew claims the statement (and a reply to another user) said the following:

“We’ve all put in extreme hours wrapping two infamous projects in the last couple of months. We’ve done multiple weeks without a day off, regular 17+ hour shifts to the point that most of us are seriously sleep deprived and are suffering still. We’ve worked really fucking hard to get this work out the door for MPC, and I’m genuinely ashamed that they are happier prioritising their profit margins and tax incentives over the insane talent and commitment of hundreds of dedicated VFX artists in Vancouver. I honestly feel insulted, like I’ve given MPC my all and in return they gave me the finger.

Good luck to all other insanely talented artists that MPC currently employs in other locations, because the second another location becomes more ‘attractive’, you could be next on the chopping block.”

[…] “Apologies, to clarify I didn’t mean everyone was doing 17+ hour days every day for weeks straight, but that we were working with no days off for weeks straight with plenty of 17+ shifts thrown in the mix. Sometimes three or four in a row, though.

Very rarely were people doing less than 10 hours in a day. If you wanted to leave after your eight hours, you had to ask permission to go home. Didn’t want to work OT at the weekend? You had to give a satisfactory reason as to why you couldn’t do it or they’d label it an unauthorized absence.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I obliged with requests because I felt if I didn’t, I’d be quickly replaced by someone who is willing to do the hours, be that for the experience or IMDb credit or whatever. That happened to two or three people while I was there.”

One of the “two infamous projects” may refer to the Sonic the Hedgehog movie. After its debut trailer was panned due to Sonic’s design, Sega and Paramount Pictures announced the character would be redesigned. The subsequent trailer was much more warmly received.

While Video Games Chronicle claims one animator involved with the film told a fan-site that the re-design involved no crunch-time, the source (and websites translating the source) have since deleted their articles. TSSZ also claims the Argentinian fan site had to delete their article “after a threat of legal action.”

Nonetheless, the other infamous project may have been the Cats movie. The Hollywood Reporter summarizes the less-than-stellar reviews of the film, with one of the key critiques being the cat/human hybrid characters can be creepy and off-putting (much like the original Sonic movie design). An updated version is even being released to cinemas- seemingly at Director Tom Hooper’s request- that has “some improved visual effects.”

The studio was also involved in the live-action The Lion King movie, which was criticized for the focus on hyper-realism stripping away emotion and expressions from the CGI characters- especially when compared to the original.

Whether the reason was due to recent bombs or costs being unsatisfactory to superiors, the studio’s closure is devastating to fans of film. MPC were involved with various films and music videos, including but not limited to the recent Marvel and DC Comics films, the Pirates of the Carribean films, Pokemon Detective PikachuBlade Runner 2049, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the Harry Potter film series, and several James Bond films including GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Diesand Spectre.

Their upcoming projects include The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, Dolittle, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife. That being said, the studio has numerous arms- including Amsterdam, Bengaluru, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York City, Paris, and Shanghai (with their headquarters in London). So who exactly is responsible for what films can become a bit blurred.

We will keep you informed as we learn more.

Image: via CBC/Mike Zimmer

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Ryan Pearson

About

Taking his first steps onto Route 1 and never stopping, Ryan has had a love of RPGs since a young age. Now he's learning to appreciate a wider pallet of genres and challenges.