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Technicolor closes Vancouver office of ‘Life of Pi’ visual effects creator MPC

‘Life of Pi’
MPC’s Vancouver, Canada, visual effects studio, which worked on the Oscar-winning film “The Life of Pi,” is closing. Above, a scene from the movie.
(Fox 2000 Pictures)

Technicolor, the France-listed owner of visual effects company MPC, closed its Vancouver, Canada, office, laying off dozens of employees, some of whom worked on such acclaimed movies as the Oscar-winning “Life of Pi.”

MPC’s Vancouver studio will cease operations immediately and “refocus its geographical presence to other locations,” the company said in a statement Thursday.

About 80 employees will be immediately affected by the closure, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to comment. Citing competitive pressures, the company told affected employees they will get the opportunity to join MPC, or other parts of the company, in other locations.

Razor-thin margins in a highly competitive industry, as well as tougher box office conditions, have pushed special effects companies abroad and away from California in a race to secure lucrative tax incentives. Vancouver became a major center for production and visual effects houses in recent years as a result of such tax lures. Sony Pictures Imageworks moved its L.A. headquarters to Vancouver in 2014.

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“Increasing external market pressures in Vancouver and more attractive opportunities in other locations have created a challenging environment for MPC to sustain the studio,” Technicolor said in a statement. “MPC Film and Technicolor’s VFX brands, including Mill Film, MR. X and Mikros, will continue to grow and expand in Montreal, Paris, Adelaide [Australia], LA and Toronto.”

London is another city where MPC plans to grow. Next year, MPC and Mill Film will launch a new episodic division, to be headquartered in the English capital as well as Berlin, the company said.

MPC has worked on a number of hits, including Walt Disney Co.'s “The Lion King.” Its upcoming projects include the CG-animated/live action movie “Sonic the Hedgehog” from Paramount Pictures and next year’s “The New Mutants” and “Dolittle,” with Robert Downey Jr.

The Vancouver office opened in 2007 and grew to about 800 people, with a core group working on Zach Snyder’s 2009 film “Watchmen.”

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In 2013, MPC won an Academy Award for visual effects for its work on “Life of Pi,” recognizing its groundbreaking work on the Ang Lee movie.

The industry blog Cartoon Brew first reported on the closure.


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