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Sony Pictures Imageworks to close New Mexico visual effects office

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Sony Pictures Imageworks, one of Hollywood’s leading visual effects companies, will close a satellite office in New Mexico this summer.

About 30 employees -- who worked on such big-budget films as ‘I Am Legend,’ ‘Green Lantern’ and ‘Men in Black 3' -- were told this week that Sony would not renew the lease on its Albuquerque facility after it expires in July.

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A spokesman for Sony Pictures Imageworks declined to elaborate on the reasons for the closure. The workers will be offered jobs at other Sony facilities, including those in Vancouver, Canada, and in Culver City, where the Sony Pictures Entertainment movie and television studio is based.

Sony opened the New Mexico effects office in 2007, moving more than 100 jobs from Culver City to a new studio in Albuquerque to take advantage of the state’s generous film tax rebate, which at the time made New Mexico a major hub for production and arch rival to California.

But the facility suffered from a falloff in film activity in recent years, triggered in part by uncertainty over the future of New Mexico’s film tax credit. Sony also had difficulty recruiting artists willing to move to Albuquerque, people familiar with the matter said.

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-- Richard Verrier


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